Tag Archives: USA

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The numbers shown in the graph above are already out of date but they provide a useful snapshot of who’s been dying in the US.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/


How do you measure success in a pandemic?

I’m writing this as someone who lives in the most locked down city on Earth – Melbourne. We suffered through the first wave of Covid-19 and lost 820 people to the virus, but that death toll could have been much, much worse; during the first wave in Italy, 35,142(1) Italians lost their lives.

Returning to the first wave of Covid-19 in Melbourne, we eliminated the virus and kept it from spreading to the rest of Victoria and the other states by putting ourselves into a VERY strict lockdown. That lockdown included a curfew and a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around Melbourne. It worked. In fact, the same restrictions continued to eliminate the virus from Victoria until NSW, with the tacit approval of the Federal government, decided that we all had to ‘live with Covid’. Thanks to our long border with NSW, we could no longer keep the virus out.

The other States and territories – Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT – continued to keep Delta out until Omicron came along. Western Australia is now the only state still trying to keep Omicron out. Across the ditch, our New Zealand cousins have not given up the fight against Covid-19 either. The battle may have changed from elimination to a fighting retreat, but it continues. The battle also continues in many of the countries of Asia, but we hear so very little about them.

I created the following spreadsheet from data published by https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries The website provides covid-19 related information about every nation on Earth.

That’s a lot of data and the forest tends to get lost in the trees so I created a subset(2) of the data to show the difference between the Asian approach to Covid-19 and that of most Western countries. I’ve included Australia and New Zealand as part of Asia, because that is what we are.

In the screenshot below, the data is sorted by total deaths:

Iceland did the best with just 46 deaths while the USA did the worst with 904,038 deaths, but Iceland has a very small population while the USA has a very large one. In the next screenshot, I sorted the data according to deaths per million in order to account for differences in population size:

Iceland appears on the top of the list, again, because something is screwy with the ‘per million’ figure. I suspect a human error resulted in the decimal point being left off, but I’m too lazy to look up the population of Iceland to be sure.

Setting Iceland aside, the data suddenly reveals two surprises:

  1. China does the best with just 3 deaths per million. [Remember that China has a population of roughly 1.4 billion people]
  2. Hungary does the worst with 4,285 deaths per million.

Hungary is the country of my birth. It’s a small country with a small population [roughly 9.6 million]. That population is now smaller by 41,229 people. I’m glad my parents are no longer alive to see what has happened to their country. That said, the USA and the UK have the dubious honour of having the second and third worst results after Hungary.

So how do you measure success in a pandemic? Is it money saved? Or lives?

In a recent video, Dr John expressed disbelief that China would continue to eliminate the virus ‘in the age of Omicron’. In the comments, all sorts of theories were raised, most denigrating China’s strategy as futile, draconian and only possible in such a tightly regulated nation. The unspoken assumption was that no sane person would want to live like that.

I’m not an apologist for China because I don’t think it needs one. Yes, the Chinese government probably is guilty of human rights violations, but people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The murder of George Floyd in the US brought the plight of Black America into sharp focus. When police feel they can kill Black Americans without fear of consequences, that’s a human rights violation. When children can be murdered at school because there is no gun control, that’s a human rights violation.

Here in Australia, the media shone a spotlight on our asylum seekers recently, but only because a famous tennis star was locked up with them for a very short time. What we’ve done to asylum seekers in the name of ‘stopping the boats’ is also a human rights violation. Would they be treated the same way if they were white and came from a European country?

But our human rights violations aren’t restricted to asylum seekers. The ‘deaths in custody’ of hundreds of First Nations Australians doesn’t rate a mention unless there’s some political twist to the story. That’s an ongoing human rights violation, yet no one wants to haul Australia off before the Court of International Justice in The Hague. Is it because we belong to ‘us’ and everyone else is ‘them’?

I’m sure China’s strategy of elimination isn’t motivated by pure altruism, but I suspect the Chinese government has worked out that its economy depends on the health of the populace. Dead people can’t manufacture anything. Dead people can’t buy anything either. Maybe that’s a lesson all neo-liberal governments need to learn.

Vaccines are great but they’re not a silver bullet that will save us from the inconvenience of old fashioned contagion control. To save lives, we have to have both. To save our economies, we have to save lives first.

Meeks

(1) Finding the number of total deaths in the first wave [for Italy] was surprisingly hard, or perhaps I didn’t search for the right terms. In the end, I had to calculate the number of death [for Italy] from a graph put out by the WHO:

https://covid19.who.int/region/euro/country/it

If you go to that graph and hover your mouse over each column, you can see the total deaths for that period. I copied the raw numbers into the spreadsheet below so I could get a total just for the first wave in Italy:

(2) The data I used for the comparison between Asian and Western Covid-19 results is detailed below:


Congratulations, America!

I’d like to wish all Americans the very best for the future under the leadership of the 46th President of the United States.

You have a lot to be proud of. You’ve broken voting records despite Covid-19. You’ve elected a Woman as your Vice President, and that woman is Asian-African-American. Most importantly, however, you’ve shown that democracy is not dead. The rest of the democratic world salutes you.

The road ahead won’t be easy, but I hope that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris really will care for all Americans, not just those who voted for them. Americans of both persuasions have to learn to like each other again. Or at the very least, to show compassion and justice towards each other. Without compassion and justice, there is no glue to hold society together.

Kind regards from Australia,
Meeks


Vitamin D – why you want it and how to get it

The first part of this video is a little bit technical, but don’t be put off by all the scientific names. Keep watching and you’ll learn why Vitamin D may be useful against our favourite virus. You’ll also learn about its importance for other conditions, such as osteoporosis. I most definitely did not know that.

The thing I found most interesting was the explanation about why people in different geographic locations may be Vitamin D deficient. Apparently, it’s all due to the season, the angle of the sun as it hits the earth, and a country’s distance from the equator.

The video talks about the USA, but I was interested in Australia, so I went looking for a map of the world showing the equator. Then I copied the area from the equator to roughly the middle of the USA. This was the distance from the equator that gets sufficient Vitamin D in summer and winter.

Next, I placed the copy next to Australia. This is what it looks like:

World map taken from : https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

Zooming in on my home town of Melbourne, we get this:

Close up of Australia from https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

I drew the green line across from the subset map to see if Melbourne does, in fact, fall within the area that receives enough Vitamin D in winter. It does, but only just, and Tasmania seems to miss out entirely.

So yes, we all need Vitamin D, for a variety of health reasons, but no, not all of us can get it from the sun during winter. And if we go from house to car to office and back again, then there’s a good chance we won’t be getting enough Vitamin D, even in summer.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, apart from how to bake bread, it’s that we can’t rely on technology to save us from everything. Sometimes, living an old fashioned, healthy lifestyle really is the best medicine.

cheers
Meeks


#Internet #Addiction – guilty as charged?

This article is about e-addiction. Don’t reach for your dictionaries, I just made that up. The addiction, however, is very real and I’ve experienced it myself, both as a gamer and as a netizen.

According to this article in the Washington Post :

‘[internet] Addicts lose interest in other hobbies or, sometimes, never develop any. When not allowed to go online, they experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, depression or even physical shaking. They retreat into corners of the Internet where they can find quick success — a dominant ranking in a game or a well-liked Facebook post — that they don’t have in the real world, experts say.’

The emphasis on ‘success’ is mine, and I believe it is the foundation of this psychological addiction. If real life sucks, go online and become a ‘god’ who is respected and adored by everyone. Or words to that effect.That kind of ego stroking is very hard to ignore because we all want to be respected, admired, liked.

The real problem, however, is not that we find ‘success’ online, but that we do not find it in the real world.

In a way, I guess this is just another First World problem, but it is real, and it will become more prevalent as the mobile generations swap their Smartphones for SmartJewellery, or SmartClothing, or SmartGoggles…or whatever. All these future devices will be fantastic, but they will not make living in the real world any easier.

Definitely food for thought,

Meeks

p.s.in Korea, the pressures of real life have already created a whole society that is more ‘connected’ than any other. And they’re starting to have serious problems. This case is unusual but brings home the message.


Discovering Autism, Discovering Neurodiversity – a review

Stephanie Allen Crist has been an online friend for a number of years, but it was only recently that I gained a deeper understanding of this very intelligent woman – through her new book ‘Discovering Autism, Discovering Neurodiversity’.

You see Stephanie, as well as being a marketing guru and a great blogger in her own right, also happens to be the mother of three wonderful boys, all of whom express autism to some degree.

In ‘Discovering Autism’, Stephanie takes us on a journey, not just through her life, but through the reality of autism. Her story is both touching and uplifting because she does not see her sons as burdens. She does not wish they were ‘other’. She accepts them as people with needs different to her own, and different to each other. But each child is, first and foremost, an individual, and a person of worth.

I had the great good fortune of being a beta reader to this book, and I loved every word. It is not a ‘how-to’ live with autism, however it does contain a great deal of information in a very palatable form. Whether your child has autism or not, I think this is a book all parents should read.

You can find ‘Discovering Autism’ on Amazon or you can order it direct from Stephanie’s website :

http://stephanieallencrist.com/advocacy-store/

If you go to Stephanie’s website you will be given a choice of formats including epub, mobi, pdf or print.

And as a final word – ‘Discovering Autism’ will draw you in and make you keep reading because it is so real, and so very well written.

cheers

Meeks


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