By Paul M. Kempen, MD, PhD
While every death is a tragedy and there have been many due to contracting COVID-19 from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, almost 3 million Americans die in a year from all sources, based on in 2017 CDC numbers. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm
However, we still do not know with certainty the actual number of COVID-19 cases or deaths for multiple reasons:
1) Testing was not available from the start of the epidemic.
2) Statistics are based on diagnosis, which include non proven “assumed infections.
3) Hospitals are paid tens of thousands of dollars to “up-code” (incentivizing such declarations and assumptions) by including COVID-19 on as a diagnosis when possible, while influenza/pneumonia deaths are the 7th leading cause of death in the USA (roughly 56,000/year) and most drug overdoses (the most recent pre-COVID “epidemic”) appear as respiratory deaths and these seem to have disappeared from the media horizon.
4) It remains unclear to what extent repeated positive tests continue to be counted as “new cases.”
Corona viruses cause 20% of common colds predominantly in the “cold and flu season” and mix in with flu infections and associated deaths, with Covid 19 possibly now compounding these deaths. Flu deaths themselves typically ranging from 30-60,000 EACH YEAR. The 3,400 average number of deaths per week from pneumonia occurred in years 2013-19. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
The CDC does track excess deaths at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm and this may be the best index of the USA’s COVID-19 dangers overall. The CDC data states that the US COVID-19 related peak occurred during the week ending April 11, 2020, which has steadily declined and recently disappeared, with a total of around 90K excess deaths to date.
Information from the United Kingdom separates these excess deaths and indicates that not all such “excess deaths” truly are COVID-19 deaths. https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-uk-excess-deaths-down-to-lowest-level-since-beginning-of-pandemic-12003325
Also, “researchers say the number of excess deaths isn’t necessarily attributable directly to COVID-19, but it could include people who were too frightened to seek treatment for unrelated illnesses due to the pandemic.” https://www.healthline.com/health-news/excess-deaths-from-covid19-pandemic
The media continues to exclaim a resurgence and possible second wave of COVID-19 based on “new cases” and neglects that the deaths have been typically in older, sicker baseline patients, who may have likely died in the next 10-20 weeks of other causes. While young people can go out and demonstrate, they too can go to work.
Because Coronaviruses are transmitted like the flu, and this COVID-19 episode has traveled much like a severe flu season. It is very possible that the “common cold” virus has now mutated and become a flu like syndrome, which will not disappear and may recur yearly like the flu. To continue treating COVID-19 like a “one time” event, to be contained by closing down the economy and allowing media to fear monger by daily publication of total cases and death is simply untenable and we have already had coronavirus-related epidemic occurrences in 2003 (SARS) and 2012 (MERS).
COVID-19 may simply document this recurrent nature of the modern severe coronavirus disease cycle. The rates of COVID-19 total numbers will ALWAYS go up and bigger numbers result in bigger fear, until the mass of society has survived the virus and created a “herd immunity”-until the next mutation.
We should mandate publication of only daily or weekly numbers in chart form, which show the current decline (or increase), to provide a risk analysis perspective for the masses. We must also remind ourselves that the young and healthy have the lowest risk of death and that overall the death rate is around 2% of “all cases” and “cases” as well as “new cases” have yet to be clearly defined! With a damaged economy, the general population still cannot obtain protective equipment (N95 masks are not available to date) and home-made masks do not protect the wearer-but do limit spreading of secretions to others.
Finally, we must recognize a number of realities: This whole episode of media hysteria served to mitigate the PEAK of COVID-19 hospitalizations (to insure sufficient care for ALL) as well as to teach the needed personal measures to create temporary containment….and the peak has PASSED and everyone has been provided education.
Personal health is a personal responsibility and respiratory infections from all pathogens will remain a recurrent problem, requiring personal attention to health for years to come for ALL pathogens. Living in poverty, under crowded conditions and without self-responsible actions may lead to infection and deadly outcomes, which may appear to culminate in the “racial trends”…….unfounded associations………. publicized by the media to create “news” suggesting racial “weakness to infection.”
We expect all healthcare providers to go to work every day into the storm of disease and risk covid 19-the whole population must take on the responsibility to the economy also-given the much lower risks. “Life after COVID-19” cannot be the ongoing demise of the US economy, an economy which must return and provide effective protection and treatment for these new challenges.
It is time to quit living in fear and act with knowledge, direction and personal responsibility for the days and years to come. https://ip4pi.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/personal-health-is-a-personal-responsibility-to-enable-national-health/