This disease is profoundly different to the Spanish flu, which was an indiscriminate killer
In view of recent controversies caused by an article in The Irish Times on Saturday, September 12th, I think it is important to articulate my position on the present Covid crisis and its management, and to comment also on more recent developments.
How lethal is Covid-19?
Up to August 10th, the number of Europeans who died from a Covid-19 illness (182,639) was slightly above the number who died three years ago as a result of “flu” (152,000). The number of patients who died in Europe from the 1917/18 Spanish flu was approximately 2.64 million – this would be equivalent to approximately 7.4 million deaths of today’s European population.
It is not for want of good reason that deaths are now referred to as Covid-19-associated deaths. Of 5,700 patients admitted to New York hospitals, 88 per cent had more than one underlying condition (co-morbidity) and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from January to May, 19.5 per cent of Covid-19 patients with co-morbidity died compared to 1.6 per cent with no other illness.
The Irish experience is very similar – up to mid-August 94 per cent of deaths were in patients with underlying medical conditions. A Stanford-led group analysed over 100,000 Covid-19-related deaths in Europe, including Ireland, and the US and concluded that “deaths for people under 65 without predisposing conditions were remarkably uncommon” .
Another important feature is the number of people who contract the virus and remain completely asymptomatic. In extremely well-defined scenarios such as the Diamond Princess cruise liner and the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier almost 66 per cent of the positive tests were completely asymptomatic, while a report from China suggests 78 per cent of cases were asymptomatic.
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Featured image is from OffGuardian