CoVid-19: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Note: Michael Dowd’s comment on the original version of this article has prompted me to “mark up” the article to remove judgements and stick to what we know. I’ve tried to do that, below, with the additions/changes noted in a separate colour and the deletions noted by strikeouts. Really interesting exercise! Thanks Michael!

U of Washington’s IHME institute’s estimated actual CoVid-19 death toll and infection numbers by jurisdiction. Estimated deaths are 150-250% higher than “reported” numbers, and estimated infections are 2-15x “reported” case numbers.

In North America at least, it would seem that we’ve vaccinated just enough people just fast enough to keep ahead of the variants, and the consensus is that future infections and deaths here will be sufficiently low to allow us to reopen just about everything this summer.

That may not be possible happen in much of the world, though it seems likely that, due to most unvaccinated countries’ citizens’ much stronger immune systems, and their bodies’ experienced capacity fighting off viral infections, most of the damage even in those countries has now been done.

The carnage is enormous: ghastly, and that’s only made worse by the fact it was entirely preventable, and entirely mitigatable even once the pandemic hit. Ten million deaths worldwide, a million Americans, dying often horrible deaths. And the long-term ravages of the disease on the bodies of those infected we can’t yet even guess at.

As the chart at left above shows, one out of every 300 Americans died from the disease, and one out of 600 of the world’s people will die before it’s over. Average life expectancy for all citizens dropped by over a year in the US and half a year in Canada. The death rate in much of Eastern Europe and Central Asia was half again as high as even the horrific US rate.

Had we never pursued followed the advice of virologists and epidemiologists and banned factory farming, exotic species harvesting, and invasion of the world’s last wilderness areas, we wouldn’t be worrying about pandemics at all: As recently as 50 years ago, before these activities became widespread abhorrent behaviours exploded and became global, many health experts were predicting the end of deaths from infectious disease. But over the past 30 years pandemics have spiked and are expected to continue to accelerate. We are doing nothing to prevent The next one, which may be worse — perhaps even an order of magnitude more deadly make this one look like an easy dress rehearsal.

And pursuing a Once the pandemic was declared, had we all followed the advice of public health experts with a “go for zero” policy when the next pandemic hits instead of the ad hoc approaches most countries used with CoVid-19, could reduce fatalities by an order of magnitude. , as Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and some other countries did, the total death toll would have been a small fraction, perhaps less than 10%, of the number that have died from this horrible plague. Instead, we let ignorant, self-interested politicians waffle back and forth on policies for fighting the pandemic, opening and partly closing and then opening again.

As the chart above right shows, as a result of our doddering about 40% of Americans got the disease, and while many were asymptomatic, that means that more Americans developed their immunity by contracting the disease (with its unknown future damage to their bodies) than got their immunity from vaccination. The US was more than half-way to herd immunity before the vaccines that might have saved so many lives arrived. So a million Americans died, for no reason.

IHME estimated cumulative death tolls per 100,000 people to date.  Some of the ‘orange’ areas have lost nearly 1% of their entire population and over 10% of their senior population to the pandemic.

The overall global data looks similar — due to unavailability of vaccines in struggling nations, the global infection rate, currently 28%, is likely to hit 40% as well. Fortunately for many of those countries, which have little or no hospital capacity to deal with the disease, their infection fatality rate (IFR) looks to be much lower than it has been in the Americas and Europe.

In Canada, only about 11% of the population were infected and the fatality rate here (42,000 CoVid-19 deaths) was only 1/3 of the American rate, so thanks to a bit more diligence on our part, we saved tens of thousands of lives, but now we are depending much more on vaccination for protection; still, only 60% of Canadians have received their first dose, and only 10% their second dose, so we’re not out of the woods yet. And the needless death of 42,000 Canadians is nothing to brag about.

So we could have prevented this, and future pandemics. And we could have nipped them in the bud once we knew they were in circulation. But we didn’t. And we won’t next time.

Not much else to say. Maybe, hopefully, we’ve learned something. We’ll see.

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3 Responses to CoVid-19: Light at the End of the Tunnel

  1. Michael Dowd says:

    Dave, given your position on free will I find your stance on this issue and especially your emphatic claim, “we could have prevented this” confusing.

    I’m curious… who, specifically, are you thinking of when you use the word “we”? And how exactly, subjectively and objectively, would “we” have prevented this, if all of us (including our “leaders”) all lack agency in any real sense?

    To be clear, I mostly agree with you on free will and agency. I’m just having trouble reconciling what I think I know about your worldview with this moralistic stance on Covid.

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    You’re absolutely right Michael. Touché. I continue to fall back into old mindsets and worldviews depending on what I’m writing and thinking about.

    I’m going to edit this post, using strikeout and a different colour to show the changes, and then print it out and keep it near me as a reminder to omit the judgements and stick to the (apparent) facts. It will be a good exercise for me. Thank you!

  3. Michael Dowd says:

    Dave, my respect and admiration for you continues to rise. Thanks for this humble and responsible (and educational for all of us) response. Bravo, my friend!
    ~ Michael

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