"The bare facts are useful, but knowing what lies behind them would be more so"

"The bare facts are useful, but knowing what lies behind them would be more so"

10-08-2021R.L.

And so there were 169 fewer new Covid cases on Monday than there were on Sunday. Good news, but a further reminder that the case numbers tell you only so much (or so little). In Minorca, there was not a single new case.

Unless there had been a sudden disappearance of Covid on that island, it can be concluded that there wasn’t a great deal of testing going on; there were 23 cases on Sunday and 24 on Saturday. In Ibiza, meanwhile, there were 19 new cases; there were 95 on Sunday.

The Balearic government, desperate to “save the season” and to convince the foreign tourist providers not to go overboard with travel restrictions, has been at pains to stress that cases matter less than hospitalisations and the rate of vaccination. The government has a point. The cases matter, but they need interpreting.

So do incidence rates, that for the 16-29 age group having tumbled by more than one thousand over ten days. Evidence of the success of the 1am to 6am restriction? Maybe.

Interpretation is required for most of this stuff. Appreciating the link between low numbers of tests (numbers that are no longer provided with health ministry daily summaries for some strange reason) and cases is easy enough; once you’ve worked out how many tests there must have been, that is. But what about, for example, cases-to-vaccination ratios and for different age groups?

The bare facts are useful, but knowing what lies behind them would be more so.

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