COVID-19 and excess mortality: Legault’s interpretation nuanced by experts | Coronavirus

No, we cannot interpret this result in this wayexclaims Simona Bignami, professor in the Department of Demography at the University of Montreal.

According to results released by the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ), Quebec posted an excess mortality rate of 4.5% last Tuesday since March 2020.

Roughly speaking, this means that the province recorded 4.5% more deaths than usual during the pandemic. Compared to the rates registered in the rest of Canada (6.2%), France (7.3%) and the United States (18%), Quebec is a leader in the world.

François Legault has therefore retrieved the information by stating that Quebec had much less proportionally fewer fatalitiesthank his fellow citizens for their respect for the health rules worse than elsewhere.

The curfew was imposed twice during the Quebec pandemic.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Michel Cloutier

Professor Bignami is categorically: This is not the correct interpretation† While acknowledging that the high death rate is a good indicator to make comparisons, she cautions that this is not the case not perfect† This is an average, with statistical uncertainty, that cannot be reduced to health compliance alone.

This figure does not allow us to come to the conclusion that the Prime Minister seems to be drawing. This average is influenced by several factors and it is not possible to isolate one factor.

A quote from Simona Bignami, professor in the Demography Department at the Université de Montréal

very complex

The ISQ, which released the statistics this week, confirms that health measures taken in each state are just one of the factors can affect the excess mortality rate.

There are geographical aspects that can explain this, such as travellers’ movements, population density, virus strains that have not always been in circulation at the same time, not always in the same place.explains Frédéric Fleury-Payeur, demographer at the ISQ.

Travelers at an airport.

Traveler movements are one of many factors that influence the excess death rate.

Photo: Reuters

Quebec’s good results may therefore be partly due to other variables, which did not necessarily prevent people from dying from COVID-19.

For example, the curfew and the mask have led to a reduction in deaths from flu or all kinds of accidents.

To decide what the contribution of each of these factors is would be for public health experts and epidemiologists to do, but it would still be a very complex task.

A quote from Frédéric Fleury-Payeur, demographer at the Quebec Statistical Institute

A rate that changes over time

Mr. Fleury-Payeur also points out that Quebec has not always had such an enviable excess mortality as it does today.

At the start of the pandemic, when the first wave hit the CHSLDs hard, the province was quite… one of the most affected placeshe remembers.

According to Simona Bignami, this is a fundamental element to take into account. The excess mortality estimate should not be taken as an absolute number, as it is a number that changes over time.

If the excess death rate in Quebec subsequently declined, it was partly because thousands of seniors lost their lives in the spring of 2020. The following year, therefore, there were not as many people likely to die from COVID-19 in the most vulnerable age groups, explains Ms. Bignami out.

Three bouquets of flowers placed on the grass in front of a CHSLD.

The CHSLD Herron was one of the hardest hit during the Quebec pandemic.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

His colleague Alain Gagnon, also a professor of demographics at the University of Montreal, also hypothesizes that the horrific stories of the first wave contributed to a recapturewhich resulted in stricter measures and better compliance with the rules among the population.

There was another kind of consciousness.

A quote from Alain Gagnon, professor in the Department of Demography at the University of Montreal

In this sense, Professor Gagnon believes that health rules have played a role in the good excess-mortality rate Quebec is experiencing today, but affirms that more data will be needed to understand the importance of this causation.

The swallows come back in the spring, but it’s not the swallows that bring the spring back, he illustrates. Correlation is not necessarily evidence of statistical association.

Soon the effects of load shedding?

Professor Gagnon also warns that Quebec is not immune to an increase in its excess mortality in the coming years, as the province has had to do some tax cuts to maintain its health network.

If many citizens experience the delayed effects, it will probably be reflected in the statistics.

We need to know if all these delays in surgery, diagnoses, will have no effect on long-term mortality. We haven’t done that yet.

A quote from Alain Gagnon, professor in the Department of Demography at the University of Montreal

It can take several years to show up on life expectancy curves.he says.

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