Statistics

7/31/2020

“Most people use statistics like a drunk man uses a lamppost; more for support than illumination”
Andrew Lang

Daily, hourly, we are bombarded with statistics about the Covid 19 pandemic. This many new cases, that many deaths, so many recovered, so many lost. It is all a bit mind numbing and even soul crushing to contemplate. We watch the statistics and try to tally up some kind of end-game scenario that we can leverage into our longed-for "post Covid" reality. When will it all end? Will it end?

I keep wanting the statistics to tell me something. Mainly I want them to say "It's almost over." I can find people who tell me that is exactly what the statistics say, just as easily as I can find those who claim the worst is yet to come. They both seem to be looking for data to confirm their fears or beliefs.

"Correlation is not causation" we are told, and it's true. Just because we can correlate cigarette smoking with higher incidences of cancer, for example, doesn't necessarily mean that smoking causes cancer. The statistics, though, are compelling enough to support the wisdom of an anti-smoking policy.

When it comes to Covid 19, there are some similar meaningful statistics. We know that the vast majority of those who succumb to this disease are elderly, and often living in a nursing facility. Children are not immune, but are more likely to be non-symptomatic carriers of illness. The age stratification of our society can be a place to influence contagion, but it cannot be the only meaningful intervention.

Covid 19 is going to make itself felt in every corner of our world sooner or later. We cannot hide from it forever. Here are the statistics that mean something to me:

The people who have the best chances of surviving this disease are metabolically healthy. People with one, two or more "co-morbid" conditions, (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity) statistically, fare much worse. This is regardless of age alone.

During quarantine this is the absolute best time to dial in those health related habits that will help strengthen our immune system. You know the drill: Avoid sugar and over processed foods, eat meat, fish, vegetables and low sugar fruits. Not too much. Get rest. It matters.

Here's another correlation: People who have a poor outcome (severe illness or death) from Covid 19 also are Vitamin D deficient. The statistics are overwhelming on that point. A little sun exposure each day (never to the point of burning), without sun screen, can go a long way to provide health benefits. Some scientists wonder if low vitamin D is responsible for the very high mortality rates of ethnic minorities with darker skin, when it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D. Supplements can help, and your doctor can test your blood levels for further guidance.

“Statistics, likelihoods, and probabilities mean everything to men, nothing to God.”
Richelle E. Goodrich

Correlation is not causation, but the Old Testament prophets were pretty good at reading the signs and listening for guidance. Here we are again. Are we listening?

--Andrea Winchester

andrea@bopumc.net