I debated posting this at all because it's a downer, and there's nothing particularly new here. But it is on my mind so here goes.
We are all going to die. The total morality rate is 1. The question is how we live, how and when we die. Times like these force us to think about how we live, how our choices affect not only our own lives but also the lives of others.
I'm a numbers guy. It may seem callous and cold to speak of life and death as if it's a calculus problem. And indeed, that is a risk. But the alternative, to be willfully ignorant of the numbers, seems to me criminal. If we are to make informed decisions, numbers matter.
So, here are some key numbers emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let's say the death rate is actually 0.5% = 0.005
Let's say half, 0.5, the population has to get infected before herd immunity kicks in, at least until a vaccine is available.
That gives a total dead per million = 0.005 x 0.5 x 1,000,000 = 2500
The state of New York is already at about half that: 1197 deaths per 1M in NY as of today.
The population of the US is 330 M
Total Estimated dead: 330 × 2500 = 825,000
That's the low end, which this guy discusses further in the link below. If that happens steadily over 18 months it's 1,500 dead per day. We're running 2200 reported deaths per day in the 22 days since April 7.
That's a big number. 825,000 dead. Still, it's "only" 0.25%. In other words 1 in 400 people. So here's the good news: the odds that YOU will die from COVID-19 are pretty small. But there's also a good chance that someone you love will die in the coming months.
Our lockdown measures don't change that arithmetic much. The lockdown has done what it was intended to do: slow the spread, flatten the curve, help keep the healthcare system from totally melting down. But it leaves us in this place where the vast majority have not yet been exposed. Ultimately, most of us will be. Despite the lockdown.
The next phase is no less difficult. Here and there we will inevitsbly back off on quarantine. And infections will inevitably spread again. All we can do then is put the lid back on, to keep the health care system from totally overloading. Remember that for every one person that dies, many more will need intensive care to survive. Every city, state and nation in the world will be walking this line. Some will make more or less well informed decisions. Many will just blunder through.
Hopefully, in time, enough of us will get immunity from exposure, vaccination or death that the fire dies out.
I say "hopefully" because we don't actually know if exposure offers immunity for a significant period of time. And we don't have a vaccine, or know how long it will last once we get one. It could be this will just be with us for years and years, like the seasonal flu. What we DO have is a whole lot of insane people who won't take the vaccine in any caae, which depresses me to no end.
We've been to the moon. Our lives are filled with magical gadgets almost none of us understand. We can do so much, and so fast, that we demamd instant answers. But there are still things we just don't know how to do.
Yup. I get depressed. And anxious. And panicky. Frankly, if you're not, at least a little bit, you're just not paying attention.
Life is always full of risks. And this is just one more. We'll learn to live with it. Well. Most of us will.
Hugs all around. Virtual hugs, of course.
"Infectious disease expert: We're only in the second inning of the pandemic"