Why are 28,000 US COVID19 deaths overreported?

We are curious as to why the US Government’s official Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) records only 37,308 COVID19 deaths as of April 25th-end when Johns Hopkins University (JHU) reports over 65,000…that is a c.75% difference.

CDC explained its methodology as follows,

The provisional counts for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) deaths are based on a current flow of mortality data in the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). National provisional counts include deaths occurring within the 50 states and the District of Columbia that have been received and coded as of the date specified. It is important to note that it can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded, and tabulated.

In short, the data recorded is that of the official cause of death plugged into the national database.

JHU reports its data gathering as follows:

Johns Hopkins experts are aggregating data from multiple credible sources to track the spread of COVID-19…

…The tracking map’s data powers a number of external research and visualization efforts by prominent media organizations such as CNN, The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Associated Press [all media organizations with an axe to grind]. But its data is also used by smaller organizations, such as Blauer’s data team at the Centers for Civic Impact (CCI).”

Interestingly, the CCI, which was newly instituted at JHU, tried to explain the discrepancy.

Obtaining accurate and timely data about the spread of the virus has become an unexpected challenge in the United States. While the federal government has traditionally been the most authoritative source for national public health data, this has proved not to be the case with the coronavirus pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s official source for public health surveillance data, has not kept its site updated with information available through state and local health departments. 

Even if we accept that the official CDC data is delayed by up to two weeks, we are surprised the figures are out by a factor of 28,000 deaths or almost 75%. Will the data JHU gleans from state and local health departments differ to those eventually supplied to the NCHS for publishing by the CDC?

Perhaps we should be a little suspicious of CCI’s noble quest for data when it published a piece which expressed the following statement:

Aggregating information from dozens of sources is challenging and time-consuming, so volunteer projects have stepped in to fill the gap. One major backbone of this effort has been the COVID Tracking Project. Started by two journalists from The Atlantic and a data scientist from Related Sciences, the COVID Tracking Project scrapes data directly from state public health websites so that its numbers are constantly current.”

Volunteers? Journalists from The Atlantic, an unhinged left-leaning newspaper which makes Pravda look like the Volkischer Beobachter? Why is a reputable university relying on such sources? Who validates and peer reviews that data to ensure accuracy? Are the volunteers activists? All valid questions.

To be honest, as a data driven group, FNF Media does not see data collection across 50 states as that time consuming. Much of it is in CSV format making it easy to download.

At the conclusion of the pandemic the numbers should show little variance. We watch with interest to see the final audit. Perhaps we can start with JHU’s current 65,000 number and wait another 2 weeks for CDC to publish the official figures and see just how (in)accurate the numbers are.

No wonder the media has a field day on the data which paints a scarier picture. They might source JHU but not disclose the volunteers that compile it.

It’s just hard to reconcile how a university which has $6 billion in annual revenues can’t divert resources to conduct the research in house?!

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