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Tag Archives: health

How should we measure COVID-19 deaths?

The CDC’s new webpage Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19 provides one method to measure pandemic related deaths:

Estimates of excess deaths presented in this webpage were calculated using Farrington surveillance algorithms (1). For each jurisdiction, a model is used to generate a set of expected counts, and the upper bound of the 95% Confidence Intervals (95% CI) of these expected counts is used as a threshold to estimate excess deaths. Observed counts are compared to these upper bound estimates to determine whether a significant increase in deaths has occurred. Provisional counts are weighted to account for potential underreporting in the most recent weeks. However, data for the most recent week(s) are still likely to be incomplete. Only about 60% of deaths are reported within 10 days of the date of death, and there is considerable variation by jurisdiction.

The interactive graphics allows the user to choose a jurisdiction and different data types. The graph here is for the U.S. and weekly excess deaths. All data can be downloaded as a csv file.

Where do we buy our food?

How you answer the question of where do you buy your food probably says a lot about your socioeconomic status. The chart here is from the Business Insider article Here’s where Americans are buying their groceries by Hayley Peterson (6/21/17).  Note that CVS, Walgreens, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General each outsell Whole Foods, for example. Why does this matter? The recent Guardian article Fears grow over ‘food swamps’ as drugstores outsell major grocers by Gabrielle Cannon (6/4/19) provides context.

Shelf-stable options tend to be highly processed and high in fat, sodium and sugar. Where they are the easiest option available, communities experience higher rates of chronic illness, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

“Highly processed food makes you sick,” says William McCarthy, an adjunct professor of public health at UCLA. “CVS and other pharmacies make money selling highly processed, long shelf-life foods, because it is all convenient.” But, he says, his research has shown that it’s not just about having more healthy options.

Interestingly,

In a 2016 study, researchers stocked corner stores in “food swamps” across East Los Angeles with affordable produce, hoping to test whether food retail interventions could be successful. They weren’t. While perceptions of the stores and community accessibility changed, patrons continued to purchase processed food instead of the fresh stuff.

Grocery sales data is available for 2018 (estimated) from the Winsight Grocery Business article WGB, Kantar Reveal ‘The Power 20’ Retailers by Meg major and Jon Springer (7/17/2018). They estimate CVS as fourth in grocery sales with Dollar General and Dollar Tree at 12 and 17, respectively. The Guardian article links to a couple of studies with statistical information suitable for a stats course.

 

What are the predictions for antimicrobial resistance?

The OECD has resources related to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). A summary can be read in the article Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year (7/11/18), which included the chart copied here.  The article is rich with quantitative information.

While resistance proportions for eight high-priority antibiotic-bacterium combinations increased from 14% in 2005 to 17% in 2015 across OECD countries, there were pronounced differences between countries. The average resistance proportions in Turkey, Korea and Greece (about 35%) were seven times higher than in Iceland, Netherlands and Norway, the countries with the lowest proportions (about 5%).

Resistance is already high and projected to grow even more rapidly in low and middle-income countries. In Brazil, Indonesia and Russia, for example, between 40% and 60% of infections are already resistant, compared to an average of 17% in OECD countries. In these countries, growth of AMR rates is forecast to be 4 to 7 times higher than in OECD countries between now and 2050.

The full report is available: Stemming the Superbug Tide Just A Few Dollars More. Two other pages have graphs. The Nov 11 post under the same title, Stemming the Superbug Tide Just A Few Dollars More, includes a map and two sets of graph with AMR trends by countries.  On another page, Trends in AMR prevalence rates 2005-2030, users can select up to eight specific bacteria resistance rates, such as Penicillin-resistant S. Pneumoniae prevalence rates, along with any country to create interactive charts of present and projected rates.  The data does not appear to be accessible, but the first article contains contact information at the bottom that might help in getting the data in these reports.

Life Expectancy vs Income Per Person

With health care in the news, let’s take a look at the knowledge that can be gained by using Gapminder. For example, the graph here is life expectancy vs income per person for 2015, with the bubbles representing population size of the country. Can you guess the bubble for the U.S.? Go to the graph on Gapminder to find out.  As a bonus their is a play button so that the graph will scroll from 1800 to 2015. You will also find a number of tools to change the graph and create others. All the data used by the Gapminder graphs is located on their data page.