Mortality Rate And Scale
A lot of numbers tend to get thrown around when trying to argue what to do about this pandemic. I've seen the claim that anywhere from 0.01% to 1% of people die from COVID-19 in order to support the argument that we are overreacting with masks, social distancing, lockdowns, etc. First, let's straighten out some numbers.
The CDC estimates the fatality rate for those showing symptoms somewhere between 0.2% and 1%, with a best guess estimate of 0.4%. It also estimates asymptomatic cases between 20% and 50% with a best guess estimate of 35%. Given these data points, fatality rate is likely around 0.26% overall. Some experts are of the opinion that the CDC's estimates are actually low. So the CDC numbers are optimistic, on the good side, and we're going to use this for now.
These are really small percentages. So it's easy to ask why one should worry. One of the problems is this paints a black and white picture, but the picture is actually a lot more gray. I'll touch on that more later. I want to hit on the scale of the numbers.
It's estimated there are somewhere between 320 and 330 million people in the US. We're being optimistic so lets use the lower number to help the numbers stay on the low side.
What's 0.26% of 320 million? It's 832 thousand. 832 thousand what? Dead people. If we let the virus run free and infect everyone, 832 thousand people will die.
This is avoidable. That's what the countermeasures are all about. Avoiding something avoidable.
But, as I noted repeatedly, this is optimistic. Based on some data analysis of localized cases in various places where it's much easier to measure the impact, the fatality rate was closer to 0.5%, and the US population is actually closer to around 329 million. 0.5% still feels like a really small chance, though, so why should you worry?
0.5% of 329 million is 1.65 million. That's 1.65 million people dead.
We need to stop thinking about the chances of me dying and think more about keeping infections down. The fatality rate will improve as our methods of treatment get better, which will improve as we understand the disease better. But if we limit the spread, we keep the number infected down, which keeps the number of deaths down.
That's what it's about. It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about everyone.
But there's a bigger problem. This isn't just life or death. It's not black and white. It's very gray. We're still learning about this disease.
COVID-19 does some damage. The damage may never heal. You may survive infection, but you may not come out of it without scars. In some cases, literal scars. And it's not just a problem for the symptomatic. Medical professionals have been finding damage to asymptomatic patients suspected to be related to the viral infection. They have the antibodies indicating an infection, and damage similar to those who previously suffered symptomatically. SARS-CoV-2 has been declared neurotoxic and hemotoxic, and it likely affects everyone who gets infected, even the asymptomatic ones.
The gray area is quite scary.
SARS-CoV-2 is highly contagious. Everyone who gets infected can spread it. Yes, even the asymptomatic. And the scary part is you can't ever know whether you are infected or not until you get a positive test. Why? Current testing takes days or weeks to get results and in that time you can catch it, and then get a negative result back. And if you get careless because of that negative result, you can spread it.
Getting a negative result is not an excuse to lower your guard.
So you might think that my opinion is we should stay in a perpetual lockdown. That is absolutely incorrect. My opinion is it's possible to maintain a reasonably healthy economy...if we take all the other precautions. There's so many people that are tired of all the restrictions, but then they argue that masks are dumb and we should be allowed to party, hold rallies, etc. So long as we don't take this seriously, we're going to have a perpetual economic collapse looming, up to and including an actual collapse due to the stupid decision of many people.
If we can't control the spread because we refuse to do what's necessary to do so, then we can't maintain a healthy social environment. Plain. And. Simple. 0.26% to 0.5% sounds like there's no risk to being a dumb fuck. It's not about risk. It's about the scale of numbers. Because it's about 0.26% to 0.5% of 329 million Americans dying. Or, perhaps, we can keep infection rates low, so it's, instead, 0.26% to 0.5% of 10 million.
But if you MUST think only about yourself and your risk, maybe you should consider that you could end up as one of the 35% asymptomatic and never realize you're infected until you get diagnosed with COVID-19 related damage. 35% is a bigger more scary number.