There is a chorus of folks now saying that COVID was nothing remarkable and proclaiming “the flu kills that many people.”

Let’s discuss.

Over the last several years the flu has killed about 34,000 per year in the USA.

COVID didn’t really kick in until about two and a half months ago so in approximately 2.5 months we’ve had 85,000 deaths.  And that’s with stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, no schools, no sports, stores putting up Plexiglas shields and marking 6 foot distances on the floors, working from home, and a host of other measures to attempt to contain the spread.

So just plain old extrapolating for the year and multiplying by 4.8 we’ll say COVID will kill about 408,000 people or well over 10x what we’d expect from the “normal flu.”

And that’s going from statistics which were compiled during quarantine.  As states “open back up” we can expect the numbers to rise.

So, yeah, it’s not the Black Plague or Yellow Fever or Cholera, but it’s still pretty nasty.

But wait, we’re not done.

Predictions vary as to how many people will ultimately get COVID but we’re seeing estimates from 40% to 80%.  In the USA we’re clocking in at about a 6% fatality rate which is pretty poor compared to other developed countries. At that rate we’ll have about 300 million * 0.4 * 0.06 = 7.2 million dead.  You probably haven’t seen that value cited anywhere but if we hit the predicted total infection percentage and don’t swing the morbidity rate down significantly we’re going see some big numbers. If the infection rate trends more towards 80%, double that for about 14 million dead.

But let’s suppose that due to lack of testing our infection rate is quite a bit higher than reported so our current calculated morbidity rate of 6% is high.  Let’s say actual morbidity turns out to be about 1% once we’ve got testing in place to determine a more accurate infection count.

300 million * 0.4 * 0.01 = 1.2 million dead.  Better.  Not great, but better.