COVID-19 In Perspective–The Ordinary News That Doesn’t Sell Soap

Written by Rob Morse on August 28, 2020

People die from many causes. Trying to reduce one risk often drives up others.  For example, the common cold is often a coronavirus. The common cold spreads until enough of us become immune and the disease runs out of potential hosts. We don’t huddle at home in fear of the common cold because we’re familiar with the risk it represents. Unfortunately, the news media was more interested in frightening us than in putting the the coronavirus of 2019-2020 into perspective. We are not all the same when it comes to these risks. Young people hardly know they have Covid-19. In contrast, elderly people who have other chronic illnesses are at extreme risk from Covid-19, just as they are at extreme risk from the seasonal flu.

I looked at the number of people who died of Covid-19. I was also able to find out how many people, by age, die from other causes. We’re not all the same. Here are the things that actually kill us compared to Covid-19. You decide what, if anything, is a risk to you.

People under 24- The people in this age group have a one-in-100 chance of dying this year. Their chance of dying from Covid-19 is one-in-32-thousand. They are more likely to die from car accidents, suicide, poisoning, homicide, drowning, cancer, heart disease, congenital defects, the seasonal flu, pneumonia, and chronic respiratory disease. Deaths from Covid is comparable to the risk from fires.

People 25 to 44- The people in this age group have a one-in-21 chance of dying this year. Their chance of dying from Covid-19 is one-in-20-thousand. They are more likely to die from poisoning, auto accidents, suicide, cancer, heart disease, and homicide. Covid is comparable to the number of deaths from liver disease or from diabetes.

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People 45 to 64- The people in this age group have a one-in-11 chance of dying this year. Their chance of dying from Covid-19 is one-in-3-thousand. They are more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, poisoning, auto accidents, and chronic lung disease. Covid is comparable to the risk from liver disease and diabetes.

People over 65- The people in this age group have a one-in-10 chance of dying this year. Their chance of dying from Covid-19 is one-in-400. They are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and strokes. Deaths from Covid-19 are comparable to the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s.

Older people are at greater risk from Covid-19 just as they are at greater risk from falls and the from the seasonal flu. What is equally clear is that young people are not at great risk from Covid. In fact, the sooner that young people recover from Covid, the sooner the disease will recede and the elderly will not be at risk. That is probably why the current death rates in the USA are 15 times high than in some countries that didn’t impose a quarantine for young people.

Perspective is everything. But, perspective lets you turn off the news.

Covid death rate per 100 thousand. US data in red. Sweden in purple.