FlyTitle: Coronavirus statistics

The death toll from covid-19 appears higher than official figures suggest

新冠肺炎的实际死亡人数似乎高于官方数据【新冠报道】

经济学人双语版-致命差错 Fatal flaws

THE SPREAD of covid-19 is most often measured by two numbers: how many people are infected, and how many have died. The first is very uncertain. Some carriers show no symptoms, and most countries do not test people who seem healthy. Because data on infections are unreliable, researchers have focused on deaths. Yet new statistics suggest that current fatality numbers may also understate the damage.

新冠肺炎的传播情况通常以两个数字来衡量:感染人数和死亡人数。第一个数字非常不确切。有些病毒携带者没有任何症状,大多数国家也不检测那些看起来健康的人。因为感染数据不可靠,所以研究人员一直关注死亡数据。然而新的统计表明,目前公布的死亡人数可能也低估了破坏程度。

Official death tolls for covid-19 may exclude people who died before they could be tested. They also ignore people who succumbed to other causes, perhaps because hospitals had no room to treat them. The latter group has been large in other disasters. For example, when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, America recorded only 64 deaths. A study later found that the surge in total deaths was close to 3,000. Many occurred in hospitals that lost power.

新冠肺炎的官方死亡数字可能排除了那些在接受检测之前就已死亡的人。官方也未计算那些死于其他原因的人——可能是因为医院没有多余的空间收治他们。在其他灾难中后者的数量很大。例如,2017年飓风“玛利亚”袭击波多黎各,美国统计的死亡人数仅为64人。之后的一项研究发现死亡总人数激增至近3000人。很多人死在停电的医院里。

Such analysis is not yet possible for nations battling covid-19. The only European country whose total death rate (as calculated by EuroMOMO, a research group) had spiked by March 20th was Italy. This estimate is based on a group of cities. Unfortunately, Italy does not break down covid-19 deaths by city, precluding a comparison of covid-19 and total deaths in the same area.

这样的分析在那些仍在与新冠肺炎搏斗的国家尚不可行。截至3月20日,意大利是唯一一个总死亡率(由研究机构EuroMOMO计算得出)猛升的欧洲国家。这一估算是基于一组城市得出。遗憾的是意大利没有将新冠肺炎的死亡人数按城市分别列出,因此无法比较同一个地区里的新冠死亡人数和总死亡人数。

However, journalists and scholars have crunched their own numbers. L’Eco di Bergamo, a newspaper, has obtained data from 82 localities in Italy’s Bergamo province. In March these places had 2,420 more deaths than in March 2019. Just 1,140, less than half of the increase, were attributed to covid-19. “The data is the tip of the iceberg,” Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo’s capital, told L’Eco. “Too many victims are not included in the reports because they die at home.”

不过,记者和学者们自行分析了数据。《贝加莫生态报》(L’Eco di Bergamo)拿到了意大利贝加莫省82个地方的数据。这些地方今年3月的死亡人数比2019年3月多了2420人。其中只有1140人被归为因新冠肺炎死亡,不到新增人数的一半。“这个数据只是冰山一角。”贝加莫省省会的市长乔治·戈里(Giorgio Gori)告诉《生态报》。“太多病亡者没有包含在统计数字里,因为他们死在了家中。”

Comparable figures can be found across Europe. In Spain El País, a newspaper, has published the results of a study by the government’s health research centre, showing that “excess” deaths in the Castile-La Mancha region were double the number attributed to covid-19. Jean-Marc Manach, a French reporter, has found a similar disparity in the department of Haut-Rhin.

欧洲各地都能找到类似的数据。西班牙《国家报》(El País)发表了该国政府下属医疗研究中心的一项研究结果,显示卡斯蒂利亚-拉曼查地区的“超量”死亡数是新冠肺炎统计死亡人数的两倍。法国记者让-马克·马纳赫(Jean-Marc Manach)在上莱茵省也发现了类似的差异。

These differences may shrink over time. Official counts of covid-19 fatalities could be updated to include people who have already died, because confirming the cause sometimes takes several days. The toll from other types of death might fall soon: lockdowns could reduce accidents and violence, and many frail covid-19 victims were already likely to die of other causes. And mortality data are noisy in smaller regions—especially hard-hit ones that may not be representative of entire countries.

这些差异可能会随着时间的推移而缩小。官方统计的新冠肺炎死亡人数可能会更新,将已经死亡的人包含在内,因为有时需要几天时间才能确认死因。因其他原因死亡的人数可能很快就会下降:封城可能会减少意外事故和暴力事件,而许多虚弱的新冠肺炎患者本就很可能因其他原因死亡。而且,较小的地区的死亡数据具有干扰性,尤其是那些疫情严重的地区可能并不代表整个国家的情况。

Still, the official covid-19 count will always seem too low in places like Nembro, a Bergamasque town of 11,000 people. It suffered 152 deaths in March, with only 39 attributed to the virus so far. “Almost all the old people got it,” says Luca Foresti, a researcher. “And therefore they died, a lot.”■

尽管如此,像有1.1万人口的贝加莫小镇嫩布罗(Nembro)这样的地方,官方公布的新冠死亡数字终归显得太少了。今年3月该地有152人死亡,目前仅有39人被认定死于新冠病毒。“几乎所有的老年人都感染了,”研究人员卢卡·佛雷斯蒂(Luca Foresti)说,“他们因此去世了。很多人。”