SARs Reporting Discrepancies
SARs is a serious problem. Problem is, world health agencies don't all see the problem the same way.
[Posted to Random Bytes on April 26, 2003 07:41 PM| Links to this post ]
There's not a lot of agreement with the WHO travel warning for Toronto - at least not in Toronto. Not being a medical professional means that I can only guess who is doing the right thing here. And of course, the standard rules apply - I can't trust the media's take on this important story, the local politicians are weasels and the national politicians are all liars1.

So I turned to the one place I knew I could get the right answers.

No, not the street corner - that stopped working a long time ago. The internet (now there's a source of perenially impeachable facts).

I figured that the best way to determine whether this he-said/she-said was rooted in biology or politics was to take a look at the number of cases of SARS reported by each country.

Off to the WHO.

China: 4500+ US: 41 UK: 6 Canada: 142 Maybe yes, maybe no?

These numbers were very clear on two points, 1) China has a serious problem on their hands and 2) these aren't the same numbers that the Canadian news media is reporting.

Off to the Health Canada Website. Canada: 345 cases???? The CDC...US: 254 cases??? UKPHLS...6 cases in the entire UK...

I stopped poking around when I got to the UK numbers because it appears that the only numbers that are out of whack are the ones that matter.

What's with that?

I don't have any answers except to note that some of the resources (none of those above) I checked during my research indicated that there were 101 different ways to report a SARs case. Its seems that WHO counts differently than the CDC or Health Canada. Disturbingly, the difference is enough that the numbers are two-fold wrong for Canada and six-fold wrong for the United States.

I sincerely hope that my neighbors to the south are watching their own CDC numbers and not those of the WHO. I'm convinced that if Canada was paying attention to the WHO that we would have lost control of this disease a long time ago. Like I mentioned in my last SARsblog, 'tis definitely better to be safe than quarantined.

1I pay attention to far too many people that grew up in the sixties. What did you expect - warmth, trust and respect for the man? Not this cat.

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