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At Half A Million Deaths Covid-19 Isn’t Even Worse Than Annual Influenza Yet

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Here’s something that’s worth thinking about. We’ve closed down the economy of, well, of everwhere, for some two to three months now, absolutely and certainly the most expensive government action anywhere and anywhen. The cause of it this coronavirus, this Covid-19 that has, so far, caused some half a million deaths:

Global Coronavirus Deaths Near 500,000 As Number Of Cases Surpasses 10 Million

The number of cases there is a clear and obvious underestimate. There’s no one serious who thinks that the fatality rate for this disease is 5%. There are – must be – many tens of millions more at least who have had it but are not being reported as having done so.

But here’s the real thing to think about:

Not that the usual annual influenza season kills around this number each year. Bad ‘flu years are worse, of course.

And, note, we didn’t close down the economy even in those bad years.

Entirely true, the correct measure is not how many deaths have occurred with the lockdown but how many would have occurred without it? The cost of the lockdown being whatever the costs has been, the benefit the lives not lost. And it’s true, places like Sweden that didn’t lockdown seem to have had more deaths than most so far. But not more deaths than all so far at all. There is also useful evidence that the infection rate was already falling before the official lockdown – people change their behaviour on their own as well as when government tells them to.

It’s actually possible that the benefit of lockdown has been nothing, all cost. It’s probably true that the gross benefit has been trivial at best. And it’s certainly true that we’ve allowed, by reacting to it so strongly, the cost today top be vastly greater than the costs of those past pandemics.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Did we even save the NHS? Seems it’ll be a year before you get a hip/knee replacement now on top of the many how died from not going to A&E or cancer treatments.

  2. Another factor in hastily locking down and switching off the economy is that if a really big pandemic comes along, it is going to be much harder to do the same again. It is clear most people don’t believe governments’ acted well and are wont to ignore future calls and all that. You get to do this once and if it doesn’t work out well…no repeats allowed.

    • Yes and no. I think most people are now realising the massive over-reaction and are starting to apply common sense, though frustratingly still publicly behaving like sheep.

      I would like to think that next time around the population would be more skeptical of govt. propaganda, but if the evidence suggested something nasty (e.g. ebola like) would take appropriate precautions. As I ask everyone who supports lockdown; How many people do you know that have died *from* C-19? No, none? OK then, how many people do you know who knows someone that has…….. silence.

      • I think it’s possible to be critical of government stepping too far in some areas without being in denial about the scale of this.
        The virologist Christian Dorsten, for example, has said that actually one week is enough for people carrying it to self-isolate and the two weeks adopted by a lot of countries is unnecessary. I’d like to know why that hasn’t been worked into measures as we’ve gone on – a counter argument at the very least would be helpful.

        And yes, obviously the odds you’ll know someone who has died from it are low, given its spread and mortality rate – even the government told people not to panic if you do get it, as long as you self-isolate for those two weeks (how does that fit with your idea of government propaganda btw?).
        But I do personally know several friends who have had it. Is that okay? Am I qualified to have an opinion in favour of lockdown now?

        PS I’m sorry, but whenever I hear anyone talk about people being “sheep”, I instantly switch off and dismiss whatever they have to say. That is the biggest low value signifier possible in the covid debate.

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