Articles to 2021-03-30

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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.


Contrary to the simplified diagram in Challen et al. (list of 2021-03-12) Davies et al. show a higher mortality for B.1.1.7. from day one. So it is definitely more virulent after all.


(originally forgotten, added on 2021-04-01)
Rommel et al. is the same statistical fallacy I've seen twice before. (list of 2020-05-10 and without comment that of 2020-09-15) No living person has a life expectancy of zero when seen as part of some group. Still, people die every day and lose the time that statistically they ought to have had left. If you do not consider that base value when looking at deaths from one specific cause the result is meaningless. So it is here. If you apply their algorithm from methods to only those who died of old age from natural causes a large number will result.

I can't specify the best method for the necessary correction but in any case after applying it the number of lost years for all deaths, or even for all except Covid, has to be zero. Of course that's philosophically questionable – many actual deaths are avoidable or premature. But still that's the only way to get a sensible measure for years of life lost to one specific cause.


Na et al. is just one more example where a small intervention effect is utterly dwarfed by individual variation. While there is an undeniable and statistically significant population effect, it is utterly meaningless as individual health advice. Personally I tend to trust in the power of biological homoeostasis. If there is a strong craving for salt, there probably exists a good underlying reason for it. Of course, if you can find that reason and satisfy the demand (alleviate the problem) by other means, you may well prevent other, adverse effects of that abnormally high intake. Just limiting salt against a subjectively perceived need may do more harm than good.

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