COVID Data Follies: Vaccination Rates, Relative Risk, and Simpson's Paradox
A talk I gave to the Actuarial Science program at Illinois State University
On Monday, December 6, 2021, I gave a talk with the title “COVID Data Follies: Vaccination Rates, Relative Risk, and Simpson's Paradox”, to the Actuarial Science program at Illinois State University (thanks for the t-shirt, y’all!):
You may have heard statistics in the news that most of the people testing positive for COVID, currently, in a particular location, or most of the people hospitalized for COVID, or even most of the people dying of COVID were vaccinated! How can that be? Does that prove that the vaccines are ineffective? Using real-world data, the speaker, Mary Pat Campbell, will show how these statistics can both be true and misleading. Simpson's Paradox is involved, which has to do with comparing differences between subgroups with very different sizes and average results. Simpson's Paradox actually appears quite often in the insurance world.
I will embed a recording of the event, copies of the slides, the spreadsheets, and the links from the talk.
Recording of the talk
Slides and files
Here are the slides in PDF form:
Substack doesn’t support embedding Powerpoint, so if you want a copy of the Powerpoint slides, you can get them from my Dropbox from this link: PowerPoint copy.
The spreadsheet with data and graphs:
Jeffrey Morris provided a lot of the resources:
Morris, Jeffrey. “Israeli data: How can efficacy vs. severe disease be strong when 60% of hospitalized are vaccinated?”. https://www.covid-datascience.com/post/israeli-data-how-can-efficacy-vs-severe-disease-be-strong-when-60-of-hospitalized-are-vaccinated.
McDonald, Stuart. “Simpson’s Paradox and Vaccines”. https://covidactuaries.org/2021/11/22/simpsons-paradox-and-vaccines/.
Bermingham, Charlotte. “Coronavirus Deaths: Understanding ONS data on mortality and vaccination status”. https://blog.ons.gov.uk/2021/11/19/coronavirus-deaths-understanding-ons-data-on-mortality-and-vaccination-status/.
Copeland, Tim. “What is Simpson’s Paradox?”. https://towardsdatascience.com/what-is-simpsons-paradox-4a53cd4e9ee2.
Some of this talk drew from two of my substack posts:
More Mary Pat Campbell Links
Substack: (yes, you’re here, but hey)
goActuary Discussion Board: https://community.goactuary.com/
I am active on goActuary — I have no official association, but I am familiar with the founders and, given the extremely small nature of the North American actuarial sphere, I know a lot of the people on the board.
Actuarial News: https://www.actuarial.news/
I own the Actuarial News website, and use it as an aggregation site for my own purposes. I’m “curating” links, not that I agree with the content, but I find it significant in some way. I used to use the old Actuarial Outpost website for the purpose, but that site died in 2020 for non-COVID-related reasons. I think.
Thanks for reading — feel free to contact me if you have any questions — firstname.lastname@example.org