Pandemic Perspective #27    September 26, 2020

            COVID-19, the worst pandemic since the Great Influenza of 1918-1919, should in this age of scientific enlightenment, be the most measurable and manageable disease in the last century. Instead it has been on a tortuous path marked by confusion, uncertainty, political pressure and wild conjecture.

            A statement that has been (wrongly) attributed to Mark Twain – “There are lies, damned lies and statistics” – seems appropriate.

            According to the Johns Hopkins Resource Center there have been 7,015,242 cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the United States as of September 25, 2020. Such a precise number implies accuracy but it is neither precise nor accurate. The exact number will never be known. Even St. Anthony (Fauci) acknowledges that “It is now clear that about 40% -45% of infections are asymptomatic.” The estimate from UCLA is that the number of actual cases may be 35 times as many as have been reported.

            Flip-flop recommendations regarding masks, distancing, therapy, school openings, etc., have left all Americans confused. How should we manage this abundance of confusion and misinformation?

            First, be assured that the risk of dying, while of concern, is less than 2 percent overall if we rely on the Johns Hopkins figures and less than one-half of one percent if Dr. Fauci is correct. Nearly all the deaths have occurred in the elderly, and among the obese, diabetic and immunocompromised in those who are middle-aged or younger.

            The CDC provided a “best estimate” (glad they’re being honest about that being just an estimate!) yesterday, September 25, that the risk of death for persons 19 and younger is only 0.003 percent; for those 20-49 years old it is 0.02 percent and for those below the age of 70 it is one-half of one percent.

            Among all the hand-wringing regarding school opening we can be reassured that youngsters are often asymptomatic, have mild symptoms when they do become ill, have a very low mortality from the disease and are poor spreaders of the virus. To keep this in perspective, 26 children under the age of 10 years have died from the coronavirus so far; about 100 children die in bicycle accidents per year and about 700 die from drowning. Among the 121 persons under the age of 21 years who have died, approximately one-fourth have had a comorbid condition such as lung disease, heart disease or obesity.

            It still makes sense to maintain personal protection: wear a proper mask, stay away from crowded places if you don’t have to be there, stay well nourished (e.g., maintain healthy levels of vitamins C and D) and don’t go near sick people unless you need to care for them. Wash your hands – a lot.

            Finally, pray that our leaders will develop some common sense and let us return to a normal life.  

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