Feb 042022

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, I observed that one of the silver linings is that the world would learn how to better handle a global pandemic. As sad and painful the number of unexpected deaths are, the world got some game-time practice with a virus that is not nearly as lethal as Ebola.

What is completely unexpected, however, is the lack of public data access. Where is the app? An app where I can ask a simple human question and see the answers for myself, from data that we all know exists. A pandemic is a public event. We, the public, elect our public servants to serve us in government. (well, kind of – watch this video and then decide). The data “should” be public (I hate the word ‘should’ but it fits here), so that I could, at a minimum, download it into my Excel spreadsheet and play with it, although a smart application that offered smart insights from the data would be better.

When something obvious is withheld, suspicions rightly grow. I’m not surprised at all that there are a lot of people doubting the intentions of the establishment. I’m no conspiracy lad, but let’s stop adding fuel to that fire!

What questions? Well, there are hundreds but here’s a few off the top of my head…

How many people had to be hospitalized within one month of their first vax shot, and their second vax shot, and their third vax booster? … and for what reasons?

I have a racquetball buddy who had never had a significant health issue but suddenly had a heart attack with a blood clot. Not reported as COVID or vax related, but it happened about a week after his second shot. Weird, huh?

How many people contract COVID by job type?

There is no doubt that risks are different for different people based on where they work. Why can’t I see my own risk profile? And my family member’s risk profile? Maybe some people would decide to change jobs?

Where does the person with COVID “think” that he or she caught it?

It might not be right, but it would be interesting. I have to believe this is a question that is asked on some form.

What are the statistics by blood type?

This came up a lot early-on and there are some small studies. But my gut feel is that there is a lot more data, perhaps un-cleansed data, that I would love to see, even with its flaws.

What are the statistics by ethnic background?

No one wants to talk about people’s heritage but I would like to see the data and if it matters.

How much safer am I from hospitalization if I had which vaccine?

With zillions of doses, a pattern must be emerging. If it is equally safe, why not let me see it, in the data.

How much safer is being boosted?

Seems like vax and boost is not stopping anyone from catching Omicron. Right now, they say its better to be boosted but where is the data.

Is it better to be vax’ed or, if you already had the original strain, or Delta, are you actually, statistically, safer than just the vax? Or vice-versa?

I am vax’ed and boosted, but the data would help make these decisions easier to make. It would help people get out of their entrenched political camps, to become independent thinkers, to make smarter decisions.

Then, overlay each question by age bracket perhaps. Or by blood-type. Or by whatever you want! That’s the idea of detailed drill-down data. See where it takes you. See if machine-learning finds correlations that the naked eye can’t see.

My original silver lining was that we would learn, and be ready for a more deadly virus, someday in the future. Well, if the data is buried in government vaults, the silver living starts to tarnish like grandma’s silverware in a drawer. What I have mostly learned, at least to this moment, is that detailed anonymized data is unlikely to be shared with the citizens.

It amazes me that the NBA offers much much better self-service stats than the free-spending government does on an issue far more important than Khris Middleton’s mid-range jumper. In fairness, Khris has a great jumper. Let’s insist on data freedom and let’s learn from detailed data.

I.M. Optimisman

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