Official Covid-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical
Even if you recover from Covid-19, you may not escape unscathed
At the moment, official record-keeping offers only three options when it comes to Covid-19: infection, recovery, or death. This misses a broad range of other potential outcomes for people who catch the virus — many of them bad.
In medicine, physicians talk about “M&M,” or “Mortality and Morbidity.” Many hospitals even hold closed-door “M&M” conferences, where their providers discuss everything that’s gone wrong with their patients over the last week or month.
Mortality is a pretty straightforward concept. Have patients died from a particular disease process, and if so, how? Were their deaths avoidable? Can the field of medicine learn anything from them which will improve patient care in the future?
Morbidity, though, is a much trickier concept. It includes the complications, health issues, and other negative outcomes (other than death) that a disease causes. Basically, it’s all the ways that a disease can make you unwell, even if it doesn’t actually kill you.
Official statistics capture deaths that occur from Covid-19 reasonably well. Reporting methods are often updated, and epidemiologists have gone back and attempted to quantify Covid-19 deaths that were originally missed. But overall, death counts are a relatively easy metric to apply. Patients are either alive or dead. Knowing the difference is comparatively simple.
But these official statistics miss quite a lot. Specifically, they fail to represent Covid-19 morbidity — the harm that the disease causes, even in people that it doesn’t kill. In terms of measuring the long-term impact of the disease — and accurately evaluating risk — that’s a big problem.
Mounting evidence shows that even if Covid-19 kills less than 1% of patients, it doesn’t necessarily leave the others it infects unharmed. Even those who have “recovered” may have long-term impacts from it.
Morbidity can happen over a long-term period, so it is a harder variable to study and track in the early stages of a pandemic than death. Anecdotal reports and early data, though, show that Covid-19 morbidity may be a very real concern…