Why Are So Few Americans Dying From SARS-COV-2?
How the most important question remains un-asked amid our self-indulgent mass hysteria
Forget all the sensationalist media nonsense that forms the 7/24 diet of most Americans and which is designed purely to grab eyeballs in order to boost ad revenues. Forget the context-free infection and death numbers which paint a completely misleading picture of the impact of SARS-COV-2. Forget about the mindless political posturing of blustering Trump supporters and on the other side terrified liberals who think facemasks will save the world from a viral apocalypse.
The really important question is actually quite a surprising one: why are so few US citizens dying from covid-19?
In case you haven’t looked at the data, here are the key facts:
As of 24th July 2020, 146,000 deaths have been attributed to covid-19 across all 50 States. While this sounds like a big scary number and it’s something the media loves to use to hold onto terrified eyeballs, it’s actually a mere 0.044% of the population. Yes, that’s right: less than one-half of one-tenth of a percent of US citizens have succumbed to this supposedly terrifying disease. That’s fewer than die in the course of a bad flu season, and it’s less than half the number of US citizens who die each year from obesity-related diseases.
So much for the idea that SARS-COV-2 is an existential threat that will kill everyone everywhere.
Furthermore the idea that infection rate and mortality rate are strongly correlated is incorrect, as the charts below show clearly:
What the charts show is a loose correlation between infection rate and mortality rate, given that onset of symptoms generally follows within a 7–15 day window. So infection rate does not strongly predict future mortality rate. European data for the last five months shows this even more clearly with deaths in most countries falling to near-zero while overall infections increase.
Now let’s look at some important aspects that are unique to the USA and which all suggest that the death rate ought to be far higher than it actually is.
First of all, nearly everyone is significantly overweight and indolent in the USA. Eighty-six percent of the population is fat and an astonishing forty percent are obese. As obesity is known to be a major risk factor for SARS-COV-2 mortality (a 70% risk factor, which is huge), it’s astonishing that the US death rate is so low.
Furthermore, the USA is the only rich nation to lack adequate health care provision. Nearly seventy million US citizens either lack any form of health care (twenty-eight million) or can’t afford the co-payments (over forty million) so in effect have no access to basic health services. Again, this suggests that covid-19 deaths ought to be much higher than they actually are.
If we take these two facts into account and model the relative population densities across the USA, include demographics regarding age, and the number of US people clustered in retirement homes and care homes, we would have expected to see somewhere around 600,000 covid-19 deaths by now, rising to a total of around 3,000,000 by the end of 2020.
And yet the real number is less than a quarter of that figure and few imagine that total mortality will reach one million by year’s end.
Therefore, the important question must be: why are so few US citizens dying as a result of covid-19?
First of all, it is obvious that all the original projections of SARS-COV-2 mortality were wildly wrong. Instead of looking at historical epidemiological data, the folk who created the scary projections took the initial infection and mortality numbers and used simple models to derive future numbers. The problem with this approach is that most pandemics don’t work like that. What really happens is that disease quickly carries off the most vulnerable (the very old and the very sick) and after that is nowhere near as lethal as it spreads among the general population. So all models that use a hopelessly naïve approach (as, sadly, all the well-publicized ones do) will massively over-state the real risks. That’s why mortality rates across Europe have been a fraction of what was predicted.
And no, this has nothing to do with lockdowns, social distancing, and facemasks despite all unsubstantiated claims to the contrary.
The Netherlands, which introduced no mandatory quarantines, which remained open to travelers, and which closed very few public venues, experienced a mortality rate half that of neighboring Belgium, which has an almost identical population and almost identical population density. Belgium implemented a strict lockdown, shut everything, and banned travel entirely, but ended up with twice as many dead as its neighbor that did practically nothing.
Switzerland likewise implemented the closure of many shops but never implemented lockdown nor facemasks, has seen fewer than 1,700 deaths and now has nearly zero mortality for several months despite reopening most things ten weeks ago and not requiring facemasks anywhere. Sweden, which the media loves to demonize as “irresponsible,” has experienced under 7,000 deaths in contrast to the scary models which said more than 80,000 people would die in consequence of Sweden’s failure to wreck its citizens’ lives and self-destruct its economy like every other “responsible” European nation was doing.
Secondly, it’s now estimated that up to seventy percent of the early covid-19 fatalities in Europe were the direct result of doctors rushing to put patients into induced coma in order to intubate their unconscious bodies. This was because doctors distrusted patients: the idea of a simple nasal O2 line was anathema to doctors, who want to be in control and imagined that patients would remove or accidentally dislodge such breathing aids if they were permitted to remain conscious. For some reason doctors also thought that fluid reduction would lead to easier breathing, so this was the regimen they implemented on their unconscious patients. Unfortunately, as most covid-19 patients were obese (remember that risk factor) this meant that most died of renal failure or sepsis as a result of developing bed sores.
Eventually, European doctors realized that their “essential life-saving interventions” were in fact killing seventy percent of their patients and so, gradually, they changed their treatment regimes. Which led to a dramatic drop in European mortality rates.
One must hope, therefore, that even though US doctors routinely practice absurd levels of over-medication on their hapless patients, the message of “don’t do the induced coma routine!” has reached the USA and consequently US doctors are killing fewer patients than their European counterparts did earlier this year.
So what, if anything, does all this tell us?
We can conclude that the USA is experiencing nothing like the level of covid-19 mortality we were led to expect because (i) the models were wildly wrong, (ii) SARS-COV-2 is in reality a very minor threat that will kill less than one-tenth of one percent of the population even at its very worst, and (iii) doctors finally realized that their interventions were killing far more people than they were saving, thus massively inflating the apparent lethality of the virus in the early weeks of the panic.
Perhaps if we all started looking at real data and thinking a little bit instead of simply believing whatever we’re told by supposed authority figures and reacting blindly to sensationalist (and highly misleading) headlines, we’d be less inclined to be stampeded into mass hysteria simply in order to ensure profits for large media organizations. Perhaps we wouldn’t imagine that random anecdote (“I know someone who died of covid-19 so it must be as bad as they say!”) is a substitute for coherent risk analysis.
And then we wouldn’t have crippled the world’s economies, thrown one and a half billion people into acute financial insecurity, caused two hundred and fifty million people to starve slowly to death, and caused one hundred and forty million children to miss out on essential life-saving vaccinations that would have protected them against diseases infinitely more lethal than SARS-COV-2 (World Health Organization figures, updated mid-July 2020).
But most of those totally unnecessary and very bad things are happening to dark-skinned people far away and our wonderful Western media isn’t reporting on that stuff because, frankly, it won’t sell burgers and skin cream. So that makes everything all right.
We can happily carry on believing whatever we’re told by people who are either compulsive orange liars or who earn their living reading other people’s words off teleprompters to entertain us on our favorite TV shows.
And the lesson of the story is: we never seem to learn the lesson of the story, no matter how obvious it may be.