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COVID-19 Deaths in Context

At the time of writing, John Hopkins University has recorded 109,312 deaths with patients testing positive for the COVID-19 disease. There are, sadly, many more deaths that have not been reported to date (e.g. at home & care home deaths). Of the 1.8m confirmed cases, only 0.4m have been classified as totally recovered. Yesterday 0.1m new infections were reported – a trend yet to peak. Many more deaths are bound to follow. Even when this has abated, it is widely expected that official figures will be a significant underestimate.

Death toll predictions range anywhere up to 2 million people. A horribly large number of people.

How does COVID-19 rank as a global killer? Attached is the latest data I could find from the World Health Organisation ranking the top 10 causes of death across the world in 2016. At the moment, COVID-19 would not make the top 10 and it might not make the top 10 (based on more optimistic projections).

Annual Flu WHO estimates that 290,000-650,000 respiratory deaths occur each year associated with seasonable flu.

So why is the world in lockdown? COVID-19 is more likely to hospitalise and more likely to kill than seasonal flu. So, quite simply, the issue is about flow control. Every country’s health systems would break under the surge in demand but for the containment policies now in place.


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