Covid Deaths in Context

I have very personal reasons for wanting the pandemic restrictions precautions to remain in place, but I realise that most young, healthy people have no such concerns. They know they’re immortal so the death toll from Covid is simply a number…right?

Wrong. The numbers shown on the graph below are for the US only, and while the great majority of Covid deaths occur in the 50+ age brackets, there are some eye-wateringly large numbers in the younger age groups as well:

The numbers shown in the graph above are already out of date but they provide a useful snapshot of who’s been dying in the US. As a mother, I can’t look at 795 children dying of Covid without getting a lump in my throat. Covid is an awful way to die.

And what about the young adult age group? 5,581 deaths doesn’t seem like a lot in a population of 360+ million people, but what if we compare those deaths to military personnel lost by the US in the last 100 odd years?

Afghanistan

‘Only’ 1,928 young lives lost during the 20 years the US military spent in Afghanistan:

Covid 5,581 vs Afghan War 1,928.

I’m not going to bother working out the yearly average. These numbers speak for themselves.

Iraq

Click on the pic below to see the full sized version. There you will see that ‘only’ 4,431 young people died in the Iraq offensive.

Covid 5,581 vs Iraq War 4,431.

Vietnam

Going further back in time to a period in which I was a young adult, the Vietnam war resulted in 58,220 deaths from a range of causes:

That’s a lot more than the 18 – 29 year olds [5,581] who’ve died from Covid thus far, but the Vietnam war went on for roughly ten and a half years – from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 – and the youngest soldiers to die were only 16 while the oldest was 62:

I don’t want to create shifty numbers by counting those Covid deaths under 19 or those in the 40 to 64 year old age brackets. Instead, I’ll just add the 18-29 year old group to that of the 30-39 year olds – i.e. 5581 + 16,343.

Why? Because 18 to 39 is a realistic age range for people fighting in wars, and if I’m going to compare Covid deaths to military deaths then I want it to be as accurate as possible.

So, combining those two age groups gives a total of 21,924 Covid deaths. Divide 21,924 by 2 [ie the two years of the pandemic], and you get an average of 10,962 Covid deaths per year.

If you now divide the total number of Vietnam deaths [58,220] by 10.5 [i.e. the number of years of the war], you get an average of 5544.762 deaths per year.

Covid = 10,962 deaths per year
Vietnam = 5544.8 deaths per year

Korea

Further back still, US forces suffered a total of 36,913 military deaths in Korea from 1950 to 1953:

Although the Korean War never officially ended, active fighting only lasted for three years so I’ll base my calculations on the 3 year number. If you divide the total number of deaths in Korea [36,913] by 3 [ie the number of years], you get an average of 12,304 deaths per year.

Covid = 10,962 deaths per year
Korea = 12,304 deaths per year

For the first time, we get a war that’s been more deadly than Covid, but we had to go back almost 70 years to do so.

And finally we go all the way back to World War II.

World War II

In World War II, the US lost 407,300 military lives from December 11, 1941 to September 2, 1945. That’s a period of almost 4 years. If we divide the total number of military deaths [407,300] by 4 [i.e. the number of years of the war], we get an average of 101,825 deaths per year.

Covid = 10,962 deaths per year
WWII = 101,825 deaths per year

Another war that has beaten the number of Covid deaths…or has it?

What if I add up all those military deaths and average them over the total number of years in which wars were fought?

The screenshot above is from an Excel spreadsheet I created. The Covid deaths by age group are eight days out of date but they were the only ones I could find so I inserted a more up to date figure in the final Totals row.

To me, two things almost leap off the page:

  1. there have now been almost twice as many Covid deaths in the US as all military deaths combined [since 1941],
  2. the military deaths in the US took place over a period of 45 years. The Covid deaths occurred in just two years. And the pandemic isn’t over.

If the US lost this many people in a war, the nation would be in mourning for a century. Why do these Covid deaths not inspire the same sense of horror…and respect?

A lot of people say that restrictions cannot last forever. They say that people have to be given their personal freedoms back.

I say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Personal freedoms are not a right. They cannot exist without a society to support them. The social contract says that individuals give up some things in order to receive the protection of the ‘group’.

What kind of protection? Education, healthcare, law enforcement, a justice system, public transport, roads, jobs, homes, high tech gadgets, nightclubs, parties, power, food, clean water to drink and flush indoor toilets…

Now think about what would happen if all electricity stopped being produced for two weeks. Would you survive without light, aircon, heating, food delivered to supermarkets, rubbish removed from the streets, street lighting, access to hospitals, public transport etc etc.?

Some of you would, 99.9999999% of us wouldn’t.

All the protections I’ve listed plus thousands more are our reward for contributing to society and abiding by its rules. If we don’t want to abide by those rules we are free to find a desert island and live like savages.

If we can’t survive on our own, we have to accept that personal freedom, individual freedom can only exist within the context of a society of some sort. But that freedom must be earned.

How? Through social responsibility towards all members of society, even those you don’t personally care about.

Why? Because everyone will get old and sick eventually. If you want to be cared for when your time comes then you have to pay your dues now.

And finally a word about restrictions. Wearing a mask to protect yourself and others is not fun, but it’s miles better than dying of Covid. It’s also preferable to having your economy collapse because everyone is off work being sick.

Good hygiene is something everyone should practise all the time, not just when a pandemic hits. Not washing your hands after pointing percy at the porcelain, or wiping your bum, or picking your nose is disgusting. Only creeps do that. Yuck.

Keeping your distance from others so as not to spread the virus may not be ‘fun’. In fact, it can crimp your social life if clubbing or getting pissed at the pub are your favourite things in life. But keeping your distance from others won’t kill you. It could kill me, and dying is no fun either.

More to the point, dying is permanent. No coming back from the grave. No miraculous resurrections. Dead is dead is dead. Forever.

By contrast, missing out on your social life is temporary. Equating the two is like saying that stubbing your toe is as bad as having the whole leg amputated.

With the greatest respect, grow a pair and grow the fuck up.

Meeks

p.s. most of my data came from Statista.com or Wikipedia. Information on the oldest and youngest Vietnam death is from : https://www.uswings.com/about-us-wings/vietnam-war-facts/

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

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