Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Thinking Versus Feeling about COVID19 Deaths


Remember all the people claiming COVID19 was the same as the flu? Well, in the 2019-2020 flu season 22,000 deaths occurred; 22,000 people died last week from COVID19. That is true if a week is the same as a year.

 Remember all the people claiming that two-week lockdowns were needed only until we bent the curve?  That is true in the same sense that the curve has no end.

We know more today about COVID19 than we did when all of these claims were made. In only one way are COVID9 and this year's most-prevalent influenza strain the same: each is a mutation of a common cold virus. They are very different in age distribution of death, which impacts the gross number of deaths and the deaths' impacts. See

For COVID19 in the U.S., the average age at death is the same as the general population's life expectancy. My initial suspicion is that the current pandemic is culling the population by bringing forward by a matter of months deaths that were already inevitable. For influenza, the death rate for infected infants and toddlers is higher than that of 70-year-olds. Epidemiology is a matter of numbers, not feelings. I am 73 and in poor health. If I catch COVID19 and die a month from now, some will agonize over my death, but those who can separate thinking from feeling understand that the impact of me losing up to a year of future life pales in comparison to my niece's newborn losing seventy years of her future life.

The use of a single measurement to judge a complex system carries great danger. In another online conversation today on Substack, I replied to a post asking why China was so quick and organized to vaccinate, while we appeared clownish.That uses a measurement of efficiency, which considers elapsed time plus resources consumed. Achieving China's efficiency came at a cost of as many as 150,000,000 deaths at the hands of authoritarian government in the 20th century.

And, the standard FDA process for approving a new medication, be it vaccination or treatment, is for a private company first to spend $2B+ of its own money over twelve years before the medication is released for public use. In China, the process is far more efficient. A medical lab develops a vaccine, the central government orders it manufactured and administered, and the hoi polloi are told when and where to show up. The Chinese have 150M reasons to obey. The U.S., as with Australia, was settled by dissidents and malcontents. Our submission-to-authority genes are weak, and our "Up Yours" genes are strong. The Federal nature of our governments treat states as sovereigns, and our constitution was written for liberty, not efficiency. But, this is an emergency!!!!! No, it's a really contagious common cold virus that primarily kills people close to death already. If this sounds cold, then you're free to disregard it along with the remainder of the real world.

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