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Thread - A book topic that I had read some time ago on the factual vs. the myriad counterfactual cases got me interested in this way of looking at events/actions.

On Covid (factual)
Deaths caused to date - 1218.
The lockdown has reduced what might have been a larger number
Tuberculosis in India - data for 2020 and 2019. Notified patients have decreased by 2.5 lakh. Big drivers of the decrease would be lack of transport/healthcare diverted to Covid/migration, primarily due to the lockdown.

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Source of above data:…

Number of patients in India - 26.9 lakh. Notified patients - 19.9 lakh…

Number of patients dying of TB in India - 4.2 lakh…

Lockdown will lead to an increase in TB deaths too. TB regimens once broken can cause MDR TB which is tougher to cure and has higher mortality statistically.

Take vaccination of kids as another example…

"Back-of-the-envelope calculations show that an estimated 5 million children might have missed out on vaccination in March, and those numbers are swelling in April."

1. The counterfactual cases are in the realm of probability. That should not stop anybody from attempting to calculate expected outcomes.

2. Counterfactual cases do not get added into one total number and make it to the headlines.

3. Comparisons with the factual become difficult. The factual yields a clean number even if it is stark and morbid.
4. The media latches on to the factual easily, and drums up attention, eventually relegating discussions of the counterfactual to obscure corners of the media.
5. Politics also latches on to the factual and then drives that narrative forward even if it is known that the factual path taken is not the best path.

I tried to take 2 examples w.r.t. Covid. There are more surely. In general, it is a useful way of evaluating issues.

Massive drop in non-COVID hospitalization leaves public health experts worried…
TB case detection in India down by 75 per cent during lockdown, could lead to major spike: WHO…
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