The Real Issues Concerning COVID-19—Part V, The Good News

Discussing anything positive about COVID-19 amid the heartbreaking tragedies it has wrought will understandably be considered to be perverse by many. Letting that perversity prevent the good news spreading and calming fears is counterproductive. People need to be fully informed to make sound decisions about how to proceed. Closing one’s eyes to the light at the end of the tunnel is not helpful.

We hear, “COVID-19 is a unique virus” frequently. That statement is true but insipid (all viruses are unique ). Some of COVID-19’s quirks are especially bad, and others are especially helpful to the task of easing nonpharmaceutical interventions (“NPI”) to improve health outcomes and get the economy turned back in the right direction. Sooner is better than later. Let’s sort some of those out.

The Good News About Covid-19

A Selective Savage.

  • The Victims. COVID-19 is unusually selective concerning which groups it severely affects or kills.[i] While we would prefer that it killed no one, a virus that slaughters children and young adults in the prime of their lives would be devastatingly worse than COVID-19. The death of an aged parent fraught with medical problems and much nearer death than their progeny is sad but is often coupled with relief that suffering has come to an end. Additionally, most parents would prefer to trade their lives to save the lives of any of their children or grandchildren, to say nothing of multiple children and grandchildren.

Deaths by Age Mass

    • The average age of people killed by COVID-19 in Massachusetts as of 4/22/2020 was 82.
    • Of all fatal cases in New York State, two-thirds were in patients over 70 years of age; more than 95 percent were over 50 years of age; and about 90 percent of all fatal cases had an underlying illness.”[ii] Data from New York City on 4/18/2020 indeed is not entirely representative of everywhere in the US, but it is nevertheless telling as to how the virus discriminates by age.
    • For people 20 – 65, the risk of having severe symptoms from the virus is approximately 80 times lower than for people 75+,[iii]e., the risk is negligible.
  • The Spared Many. While exceptions[iv] to the rule that COVID-19 spares harm to virtually everyone younger than 21. With the possible exception of NYC, the risk of adults dying from COVID-19 is about the same as the risk of getting hurt driving on highways of a congested city for several hours.[v] Dangerous, but not a reason to upend everything.

2 thoughts on “The Real Issues Concerning COVID-19—Part V, The Good News”

  1. Thank Don. I hope you’ll forgive the length of this and the prior post. There was just too much misinformation floating around to skimp on a response.

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