April 22, 2020

By Enrique Vega Ayala

Official Chronicler of Mazatlán

Who has precise data? A few days ago the Governor of Baja California Jaime Bonilla detonated the disappointment at the official figures of the epidemic in Mexico. Already other governors, such as Enrique Alfaro de Jalisco, had questioned the Sentinel Surveillance strategy of the Ministry of Health (SS), due to the issue of rapid tests, and indirectly contested the data handled by the spokesman Dr. López-Gatell, with the presumption that if there was no evidence, it was not possible to know the number of the infected more accurately and to attend to the problem more wisely.

But Bonilla’s complaint exposed another side of the same controversy. In his own words: “I ask the entire operation of scientists who are in Mexico City just to publish the numbers of us, which are real,” as published by the newspaper Reforma https : // www . reform . com / a – amlo – le – choca – lamentira – bonilla / ar1922806. He also assured that this discrepancy could mean an affectation for his state in the projections made by the SS. From this perspective, to verify if the disparities are generalized or only occurred with Baja California, it was necessary to compare the information offered by the states against that of the SS.

The location of the information is not easy. There are entities that do not have the specific data available for their state and do not provide state information about the pandemic, some of them on their portals refer to the SS page, where a link that connected to the site called verificovid still appeared on the 19th. : // I verify . mx /, where data broken down by entity are located, which are updated daily; for that reason, the data were taken with that reference in view of the lack of their own premises; other states have them but not properly updated. In all situations, the result casts uncertain handling, as Dr. Erdely comments in “La Matemática López-Gatelliana”. For these notes, we use the contrast of what was published by the sources at hand, with respect to two variables: that of confirmed cases and that of deaths.

It is interesting to note that we do indeed find numerical differences and that they do not follow precise logic. As can be seen in the table of concentration on confirmed cases, inserted below, in 22 entities the numbers of local governments are greater than those contained in the SS database and in ten the opposite is true. The difference is whether or not governments have specific data.

Until April 19, in the available sources, there were differences in the confirmed cases, as in the case of Mexico City (CDMX), where the Open Database showed 1984 cases, while verifying the same SS, (because the CDMX in its portal refers to the SS for pandemic information) gives 2,299 confirmed, a difference of 315 people. For the State of Mexico, the difference was 285 confirmed. The most significant.

The inconsistency seems characteristic of the authorities’ handling of the information about the pandemic. The idea that the numbers are being manipulated with uncertain intentions has been gaining ground and has been fertilized on fertile ground for the flourishing of calls to disobey the rules imposed to mitigate the scourge. The TV Azteca call, on Friday, April 18, through its stellar newscast, is the most resounding example of those expressions. Let us hope that there will not be any later against confinement, such as those that Trump has begun to support in some democratic states of the American Union.

Therefore, the urgent search for the adoption of similar criteria between the federation and the states is necessary, at least. In the research, we even found nominal differences in the variables. In some, there are no data of only the four usual in the daily SS communications (confirmed, deceased, negative and recovered), but they publish up to eight types of data with different names (positive, negative, active, hospitalized, ambulatory, cases studied, tables by age and sex of confirmed, patients discharged), which contributes, by profuse, to the confusion.

If a review is made of what was released weeks ago in the official federal and local publications on the subject, one finds that indeed, to date, attempts have been made to modify the most notorious inconsistencies, the case of Baja California is very illustrative; But, as you can see, the inconsistencies persist despite the efforts.

In terms of deaths, the differences in the data are greater because all those registered in the BDA appear. In other words, those who died without having obtained a test result for Covid19 and those who had had a negative result before dying are not “shaved”; While the information of the state governments does not specify the characteristics of the death records that they publish, so it is not possible to know if the included ones were only those that had a positive result for COVID or not. In this item, except in the case of Campeche, all the BDA values ​​are higher than the state values, as expressed in the following table:

To conclude, I return to what Ciro Murayama says in his article “COVID-19: democratic responsibility”: issuing the statistics corresponds to the health authorities that are in charge of health in the country, by attribution, and by responsibility.

“It is known that throughout the world there are different problems in detecting and classifying the number of infections, deaths, medical discharges due to the disease and that, therefore, the figures may be approximations of different precision regarding what happens in each place. Although it is not a matter of “believing” in the government figures since it cannot be an act of faith, it must be recognized that the only way to follow up on the facts is from common, shared and verifiable data, which It also means that the authorities must conduct themselves in accordance with the constitutional principles on the matter (article 26): accessibility to information, transparency, objectivity, and independence. There is a sufficient critical mass in Mexico of mathematicians and statisticians, epidemiologists, and doctors, among other specialized disciplines.


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