“I don’t think I have seen such an error in my life”: Health recognizes a strange error in the data that triggered youth mortality from COVID in Spain
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a mistake in my life“. These words of Max Roser, a researcher who has been collecting, sorting and analyzing data from around the world for years to Our World In Data, describe very well a bizarre error that has set off all the alarms of the authorities of half the world.
This same weekend, the prestigious magazine ‘The Lancet’ published a letter in which he analyzed infant and youth mortality data linked to COVID-19 in half a dozen countries around the world. Their conclusions were that both children and adolescents continued to have a low risk of dying from the disease, yes; but what was surprising was the data from Spain: infant and youth mortality was double the next country on the list. What had happened? A new variant? A systemic problem? Why had so many children died in our country?
“An error” that has set off all the alarms
Pediatrician David Andina stepped out from the letter from ‘The Lancet’ explaining that the figures that were handled (35 young people under 15 years old deceased) did not correspond to multicenter registries carried out by both the Spanish Society and Foundation for Pediatric Intensive Care and by the Epidemiological Study of pediatric infections by the new coronavirus (that add up to 10 so far).
This was confirmed by the medical associations it’s a statement: “Both the Spanish Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases (SEIP) and the Spanish Society of Pediatric Intensive Care (SECIP) are carrying out a registry of pediatric patients treated in Spain with SARS-CoV-2 infection and its complications. To date these registries have included up to seven deceased patients. Therefore, the figure included in the article seems wrong”.
The shocking thing is that the researchers from ‘The Lancet’ were effectively using the data of the Ministry of Health. If there was an error, the error was in the official data, was it possible? Finally, the Ministry acknowledged that it was: “Indeed, it has been detected that some autonomous communities made mistakes when incorporating the data of minors, but it is already being reviewed to correct it “
Nevertheless, no official source has wanted to detail what error it wasNor how is it possible that these data have been published for months without setting off the alarms of the notification systems of the Ministry and the Communities. In this sense, the only explanation available is the one that some pediatricians have explained to them during these months.
Andina himself, but also Pere Soler, a pediatrician at the Pediatric Infectious Pathology and Immunodeficiencies Unit at Vall d’Hebron Hospital, agree that “the only credible explanation” they have received so far from the authorities is that some systems “prevent direct inclusion of patients over 100 years old and therefore if a 102-year-old patient dies in the registry it counts as being 2 years old. One of 107 as if it were 7 “.
Be that as it may, what does seem clear is that it is about the umpteenth error that makes visible the endemic problem that Spain has with public data. In other areas, these types of problems are no longer surprising, but in the context of the pandemic deficiencies of this type often become incomprehensible.
Image | Kelly Sikkema