Saturday, February 06, 2016

Zika and birth defects: The hard data

This NYTimes article has the actual data on the "epidemic" of microcephalic type birth defects from the Zika virus.

one quarter of cases scrutinized were not microcephaly.
And the upsurge in number of cases might be because in October the gov't ordered reporting of cases. So cases before then might not have been reported.

Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly. Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus. But the government and many researchers say that number may be largely irrelevant, because their tests would find the presence of the virus in only a tiny percentage of cases. Another 709 babies have been ruled out as having microcephaly, according to the government, underscoring the risks of false positives
so yes, it i a problem: But it is still a tiny percentage of all births.

Infant mortality rate (under 1), 1990
Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2012
Neonatal mortality rate 2012
Total population (thousands) 2012
Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012
Annual no. of under-5 deaths (thousands) 2012
GNI per capita (US$) 2012
Life expectancy at birth (years) 2012
Total adult literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*
Primary school net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2011*

Definitions and data sources

uh what was that again?
Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012: 3008.5

translation: yes, an upsurge in a devastating birth defect, but 3000 (or 10 thousand for that matter) would only be a tiny percentage of the 3 million births a year in that country.

but the UN statistics also show a Brazil that is a lot more prosperous than is usually portrayed: the UN statistics show that only  6 percent live in severe poverty, and that the fertility rate is 1.8 (below replacement level), that 97 percent deliver with trained birth attendants (who could measure and report the defect) and that 99 percent have had proper immunizations.

oh yes And their fertility rate is 1.8 (below replacement level and similar to that found in Europe and other middle class countries).

Hmm...if you listen to the media, only a repressive communist regieme like Cuba could be this successful in their health coverage.

But covering the march of Brazil into the middle class just isn't something done in today's world.

it might hurt the feelings of socialists like the Pope who prefer photo ops in the slums (which are real, of course, but a shrinking part of the populace) and don't want to face the dirty little secret that capitalism is making inroads in South America.

Alas, today's financial crisis is threatening them.

BBC report from 2015:

In the early 2000s, Brazil began exporting many of its commodities - such as iron ore, soy, and beef - around the world, fuelled by growth in places like China and India.
Those commodity profits, according to Hector Gomez Ang of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, kicked off a virtuous cycle.
"That started creating jobs," he says. "That's one of the factors."
Those jobs then drove a need for services, health care, and education.
Added to that, says Gomez Ang, was a state policy where the government pushed banks to offer credit to consumers at favourable terms for the first time.
they also note the huge demonstrations against corruption in the gov't...

so when you read about the coming financial armageddon in today's Drudgereport, remember it's not just the rich yuppies that will be affected, but the growing middle classes in countries that only recently have become middle class (or in countries like the Philippines who are starting the march into the middle class).


I had said deaths from Zika are rare, but AlJ reports that three deaths from Guillian Barre syndrome have been blamed on the Zika virus.

This is a rare ascending paralysis from several different viruses: you might remember that there was an outbreak of this in 1976 blamed on the swine flu vaccine.

it hasn't been noted after other flu vaccines, however, and since the few dozen cases of this each year are a lot lower than the tens of thousands who die of pneumonia etc complicating a full blown episode of influenza, that shouldn't stop you from getting the shot.

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