COVID-19: What you may not know about Italy

As it became clear that COVID-19 containment efforts were failing outside of China, the epicenter of what had become a global pandemic shifted to Italy. Within a matter of days, ICUs in northern Italy were overwhelmed as hospitals struggled to accommodate patients with COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases skyrocketed, as did the number of…

COVID-19: Oxford CEBM’s March 29th update on IFR

The University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine continues the offer the single most comprehensive analysis of current evidence on COVID-19 fatality rates. The entire article is very much worth reading. Their March 29th update revised the estimated infection fatality rate (IFR) downward: “Emerging evidence suggests many more people are infected than tested. In Vo…

Worth reading: “My only crime is my face,” Perspective from Mary Oyama Mittwer and Miné Okubo

While browsing through an online museum exhibit, I came across an excerpt from this compelling article written during the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. I managed to find a scan of the full article hosted by the UC Berkeley Library. The writer describes her family’s internment experience until their release in 1943,…

COVID-19: Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine estimates global infection fatality rate of 0.29%

The University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine offers an extensive assessment of COVID-19 mortality and infection data in its article on Global Covid-19 Case Fatality Rates, updated daily. “Comparison with Swine Flu The overall case fatality rate as of 16 July 2009 (10 weeks after the first international alert) with pandemic H1N1 influenza varied…

Worth reading: Opioid Prescribing in the Midst of Crisis – Myths and Realities

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1914257 Great perspective from Michael L. Barnett, M.D., in NEJM. Sadly, it’s paywalled, but I share a useful table from the article below. Barnett describes the current state of opioid prescribing as an over-correction, in which the terrible opioid overdose epidemic has led public health officials and providers to move too far in the opposite…

COVID-19: No, the Spanish Flu did not kill “an estimated 2 to 3 percent of those infected”

Within the past few weeks, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, commenters in news media have propagated a meme that’s now firmly embedded in the public consciousness. It’s best summed up in an article in Vox that’s typical of the trend, “Did the coronavirus get more deadly? The death rate, explained.”1 The Vox…

COVID-19: Contrarian perspective from John Ioannidis

It’s fair to say that Stanford epidemiologist and statistician John Ioannidis, M.D., is one of the most celebrated figures of his field. Ioannidis first gained global attention in 2005 for his provocatively-named paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.”1 This paper was essentially the first major alarm that led to recognition of the ongoing…

Worth watching: Should You Opt Out of Patient Care That Offends Your Morals?

Art Caplan on regulations recently issued by President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that permit physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare workers to refuse to provide services to their patients if they have religious or personal reasons for a conscientious objection. Caplan’s take on this worrisome development is welcome and worthwhile, as…

COVID-19: Media reporting on a Nature study of symptomatic fatality rate

As I’ve mentioned before, the common practice at the moment among public commenters is to conflate case fatality rate with infection fatality rate, and then make an erroneous comparison with the infection fatality rate for seasonal influenza. This time, a recent study in Nature is getting widespread media coverage. The study authors estimate that 1.4% of those…