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There’s always a “but”: why Covid-19 statistics never tell the whole story

If we've all become armchair epidemiologists, now more than ever we should be challenging our preconceptions

By Michael Blastland  

Illustration: Chris Tilbury/Prospect

“Two thirds of people hospitalised with Covid-19 in New York have been socially distancing.”

Maybe we’re thrown by his nugget of news, maybe we’re delighted, but we’re all paying attention:

“Is this true?’’

It is. The mental gears turn…

“OMG, how could that be happening?”

…to a terminal conclusion:

“Social distancing doesn’t work!”

Naturally, there’s a “but.” In truth, you knew there would be. Whether that “but” is welcome will depend on your prior views. If you instinctively bristle against social distancing, any “but” is awkward, muddying…

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