Finance professor and statistician Peter DaDalt, on his personal FB page, weighs in on the anomalously high CFR (case fatality rate) of 8% from Italy. In contrast, Germany at this stage has an enviable 0.3% CFR.
As I pointed out before, limiting testing to people with already pretty severe symptoms will intrinsically increased the CFR by throttling the denominator. In addition, it is heartbreakingly obvious that the healthcare system in the stricken regions is buckling under the strain.
But there is more than that: Peter cites a professor affiliated with the Italian National Institute of Health, who says that, while yes, all these people are sadly dead, re-analysis of the case files showed that in only about 11% of them COVID-19 was the proximate or underlying cause of death.
Now how is Italy doing during bog-standard seasonal flu? This article (hat tip: LawDog) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1201971219303285
states: “We estimated excess deaths of 7,027, 20,259, 15,801 and 24,981 attributable to influenza epidemics in the 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17, respectively, using the Goldstein index.”
That adds up to 68,068 for the four flu seasons together. For comparison, at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html I find US figures for the same seasons of 38,000, 51,000, 23,000, 38,000, i.e. a total of 150,000 for the same four seasons.
Now the populations of the two countries stands at about 60,4M (Italy, 2018 census) and 330M (2019 census estimate. Taking the respective ratios, that works out to 0.045% excess mortality rate for the USA, and nearly two and a half times that, 0.11%, for Italy. Possible explanatory factors include an aged population profile and severe air pollution in some regions (notably Lombardy), but anecdotal evidence from people who have been in the Italian healthcare system suggests there’s more to it than that,
Finally, the US President has authorized Ford, General Motors, and Tesla to engage in mass production of respiration ventilators, as American hospitals are in some areas (notably WA, where the first outbreak took place) reaching the saturation point.
Stay healthy, stay calm, and stay safe.