Covid-19 Deaths In Context and the Absurdity of Flu Comparisons

Mish

Every day I am barraged with Tweets by pandemic illiterates who still compare Covid-19 to the flu, car crashes, heart disease etc.

The same illiterates point to easily debunked articles that claim the number of deaths is overstated and the models are totally wrong. 

The above chart shows just how foolish these pandemic non-believers are. 

Here's a second chart of New York that does the same.

New York State Weekly Deaths

Covid-19 New York State New Deaths Weekly 2020-04-21

The charts and comments below are from the Atlantis article Not Like the Flu, Not Like Car Crashes, Not Like... 

The Deaths in Context

Different time scales: We are still early in this pandemic. It has only been a few weeks since the first reported U.S. deaths. Comparing these deaths to, say, an entire year of deaths from car crashes or influenza is not meaningful.

A spike: Perhaps the most noticeable feature of both graphs is the Covid-19 spike — the rapid growth in deaths since the pandemic began. Car crashes, by contrast, show little variation week to week. And even compared to past flu seasons or pandemics, the rate of increase in Covid-19 deaths is markedly faster.The number of new deaths reported in the U.S. in the week beginning March 16 was 678 percent higher than the previous week.

In New York State, the number of new deaths grew thirty-six-fold the same week. By comparison, the worst one-week increase in new flu and pneumonia deaths during the 2017-18 flu season was 26 percent, and during the 1957-58 Asian flu was 48 percent. Although the growth in Covid-19 deaths is now slowing, the number of new deaths for the week ending on April 5 was still more than double that of the week before.

A leading cause of death in the United States: Several weeks ago, coronavirus deaths were few in comparison with other causes. But last week, reported U.S. Covid-19 deaths were just shy of the normal rate from heart disease, usually the leading cause of death. [This week, the Covid-19 death rate exceeded the death rate of heart disease]. 

The article notes that the number of people in New York who died with coronavirus last week was more than any other cause of death, as many to 76 percent more.

Deaths Overstated?

Once again the pandemic illiterates are out of touch. They accurately note that New York now adds "probables" to the "confirmed" Covid-19 bucket.

OK, the new method attributes a few deaths to the wrong category. 

Unfortunately, there are many times that number of deaths not accurately attributed because of failure to test. Those deaths are attributed to the flu, pneumonia, or nothing at all.

The result is deaths have been dramatically understated.

 Model Silliness

The naysayers point to the badly overestimated initial death estimates. But those 2 million initial death totals presumed there would be no mitigation efforts. 

What clearly has happened is the mitigation efforts worked far better than the models expected. 

Died With Covid

Another argument making the rounds is people died with Covid, not because of it. This ridiculopus argument stems from Italy, nursing homes, etc, where people often had other diseases. 

Here's the reality: If you die in a car crash and had diabetes, you died with diabetes. If you die of Covid and had diabetes, you died of Covid. 

Timeline Context

Please take another look at the above charts. 

Deaths from heart disease and cancer have a known death rate that does not vary much. Hospitals can easily plan for that. 

Hospitals can also plan on set rate of auto-related deaths.

Hospitals were not prepared for the onslaught of a dramatic, sudden rise in Covid-deaths even if these people would have "died anyway" which is the essence of the "died with" silliness.

Fools Rush In

Now that the curves are finally flattening, more on flattening in a subsequent article, the fools want everyone to return to work even though it should be crystal clear that the US is woefully behind on testing.

Three Key Questions

  1. What percentage of people have antibodies?
  2. What percentage of the population are still carriers?
  3. Do we track people known to have contact with carriers and if so how?

The fools don't know, nor do they care about such questions. 

They just want to rush back to work in the ridiculous belief the worst is past.

The Most Important Question

What are the implications of making a poor decision regarding restarting America?

Once again, the fools armed with their ignorant logic, and beliefs about what's going on, just don't give a damn.

Individual Rights

Yes, individuals have rights. 

But contagious individuals who do not give a damn do not have a right to spread disease to everyone on the beach, gym, and grocery store.

Corporations Have Obligations

 Corporations have obligations to their employees and customers. One of those obligations is to have a safe working environment and place to do business.

Corporations who do not give a damn if their employees spread fatal diseases will face a myriad of lawsuits. 

Government Obligations

Government bodies, especially governors, have obligations as well. They need to protect their citizens. 

If and when there is sufficient testing states can make judgments and set proper regulations.

But where the heck are the tests Trump long ago promised? 

Trump's Pitiful Judgement

Meanwhile, Trump's huge rush to judgment to restart America, despite massively overpromising and under-delivering tests is pitiful.

Governors are wise to resist Trump's pressure.

Mish

Comments (233)
No. 1-50
Ted R
Ted R

I'm happy someone with a media presence has taken the time to point out these differences. Personally I can't understand why some people don't or can't understand the difference between the flu and covid 19. Great post.

wootendw
wootendw

"...compare Covid-19 to the flu..."

No, it's definitely not the flu. It's a NEW variant of the common cold or related, possibly modified biologically.

Because it is NEW, no one had any immunity until very recently. People get anti-bodies to potential pathogens as the grow older.

Older, weaker people never got the anti-bodies to covid, so they expired or lived on ventilators. (No idea yet on recoveries - it's a secret!)

The virus is mutating and will do so out of existence within a couple of years.

Self-monitor your health.

PecuniaNonOlet
PecuniaNonOlet

Mish, as usual, you are spot on. In the US, individuals have a right to bear arms but that doesnt include me taking a 9mm pistol and firing shots up in the air or randomly in different directions. Someone walking around with a deadly infection is doing exactly that, walking around with a “loaded” weapon and firing tiny deadly bullets into everone. With all the mass shootings in this country it doesnt surprise me the Trumpnuts apply the same careless logic and philosophy to CV19.

The Hood
The Hood

Jezz Mish,... you're becoming like chicken little. NYC? Detroit? Chicago? The Covid 19 targeting of certain communities covering less than 5% of geographic America is very narrow. And the application these metrics across the board to the remaining 95% of outlying America is what is economically destroying our country and others around the world. Strip away everything something is not and what is left is the truth. #1) The targeting of victims is compelling evidence of a bio-weapon. There is nothing China and world globalist would like better than to euthanize most of Africa. #2) Never let a crisis go to waste. We've been watching, you Mish, have been watching REPO-GATE come crashing down around our ears, yet no one says anything about this economic debacle that is out stripping 2008 by leaps and bounds. I shocked that you would feed into the distraction. Come on man, we're wise to the governors and the FED.

PecuniaNonOlet
PecuniaNonOlet

“1) The targeting of victims is compelling evidence of a bio-weapon.”. It is well known China has nuclear weapons. If they wanted to kill anyone on earth they could do so fairly easily. The fact the infection is reimerging in China mutes this crazy nonsense. Numerous countries over the ages have tried to colonize/conquer africa - they have all failed. There is almost a billion people there with the average age of 15 in contrast to the average age of china or any western country of 40+. A wise master once said “the meek shall inherit the earth.....” and that is not anyone reading this post on this blog if you havent figured it out.

Ted R
Ted R

You are welcome. My pleasure.

numike
numike

this is how you explain covid 19 is not the flu
By now you have probably seen people explaining that, "Actually, the coronavirus pandemic is not much different from the flu and all of this fuss is just a big overreaction."
Or, "More people die in car accidents every year and you don't see us shutting down auto travel, you big bunch of ninnies."
It's hard to know whether these arguments are just partisan bs designed to alibi Donald Trump, or if they are serious beliefs borne of misunderstanding.
For a moment, let's pretend it's the latter.The number most often cited for annual flu deaths is 60,000. This number is a composite. https://mailchi.mp/thebulwark/this-is-how-you-explain-that-covid-19-is-not-the-flu

awc13
awc13

"Here's the reality: If you die in a car crash and had diabetes, you died with diabetes. If you die of Covid and had diabetes, you died of Covid. "

that is not quite correct, you have the diseases reversed. try this:

If you die of diabetes and had Covid, you died of Covid.

In Oregon they are considering counting deaths of people who had Covid symptoms but were either not tested or were tested and the result was negative.

Bottom line is that in NY they are counting deaths of people not tested for covid in with the covid death count. fact.

Isaiah217
Isaiah217

We can’t trust governors or politicians to make wise economic decisions but we can trust them to get it right on the Coronavirus? Makes no sense

awc13
awc13

Mish, I think you are assuming way to much about how the "fools" think. it is undeniable that there have been many ridiculous rules put in place. outlawing vegetable seeds. closing FL beaches but leaving central park open. closing schools but increasing the child per caretaker ratio at daycare centers. outlawing driving at night. the list goes on and on.

I rail against the stupid rules, the ones that make no sense.

fact: the virus is here to stay.
fact: covid viruses are extremely difficult to make a vaccine for, it is likely we will never have a vaccine for the Wuhan flu
fact: without a vaccine, most everyone will eventually catch it, it is just a matter of time.

Experts say that the most likely outcome is that the virus will go around for the next couple of years until about 70% of the population has been infected. at that point in time it will die down and become background noise.

awc13
awc13

if covid deaths are under counted, it would seem like that same causes for under counting would cause under counting of death from the typical flu

Mandian
Mandian

Focus on gold, oil and economics, you will serve the humanity better. Thanks

Greggg
Greggg

Greggg
Greggg

Look this up... Tried to post the web site and my post did come through

bradw2k
bradw2k

"Government bodies, especially governors, have obligations as well. They need to protect their citizens."

Such a sweeping statement is ridiculous. How does "protect the citizens" not justify socialized medicine, government medical research, the FDA, the EPA, ...??

Government--the organization with the biggest guns--has ONE thing to do, and fortunately it is stated plainly in the Declaration: defend the liberty of the individual to pursue and preserve his own life and happiness by his own judgment.

For the most part, individuals should be free to make up their own mind to take as much or as little risk as they want, without any obligation on others. But a pandemic is a metaphysically abnormal, temporary situation where if people continue acting as usual they may inadvertently destroy the very possibility of critical health care for everybody else. No one has the right to set the entire medical system on fire.

Thus a proper stay-at-home order is actually an instance of defending each individual's right to pursue and preserve his own life and happiness. Life and Liberty are not even possible if a plague takes hold, thus it is proper for a government to take certain steps to make sure that doesn't happen. (I'm not saying COVID is a plague, just speaking abstractly.)

For such edicts to be objective and just, they need to meet several criteria such as:

  • the gov must state a specific goal, standard, and principle for what it is doing and why
  • the context must be openly communicated (here's what is known and what is not...)
  • the edicts themselves must be very specific
  • they must have specific timelines and criteria for ending
  • the ultimate goal must be to restore full liberties as soon as possible (this presumes a society which actually VALUES liberty)
Jojo
Jojo

The charts and comments below are from the Atlantis article Not Like the Flu, Not Like Car Crashes, Not Like...

All I can say is that there are 3 types of lies - Lies, Damned Lies and [manipulated] Statistics. Whew.

Jojo
Jojo

Hey! Time for me to stir up some FUD. Y'all gonna die! Update your wills now!!

Coronavirus’s ability to mutate has been vastly underestimated, and mutations affect deadliness of strains, Chinese study finds

  • The most aggressive strains of Sars-CoV-2 could generate 270 times as much viral load as the least potent type
  • New York may have a deadlier strain imported from Europe, compared to less deadly viruses elsewhere in the United States

Updated: 1:33am, 21 Apr, 2020

herbw2
herbw2

yes, very

indubitably
indubitably

Data from the CDC. In the US from Feb. 1 2020 until April 18, 2020:

49,013 have died from pneumonia (93% 55+ and over)
17,229 from COVID-19 (91% 55+ and over)
7,676 from COVID-19 and pneumonia
5,411 from influenza

615,428 deaths from all causes

mrutkaus
mrutkaus

Mish needs to convince George Noory that social distancing works and COVID is not like the flu. George is spewing junk to millions every night.

Thalamus
Thalamus

I agree that a prudent response is wise to a real enemy, and Covid-19 may be a real enemy, but how convenient that Faucci and Birx, who always push vaccinations (with Gates), are heading the US response to this virus. This is a chess game and you can see the enemies next move.

ThePeej
ThePeej

Mish, thanks, as always, I appreciate the free service of being able to read your always-worthwhile articles, hope this continues. Charts show severity of Covid, no doubt. As someone attempting to be economically literate, seems we should think of diseases in terms of years (hours) of life lost - maybe better, hours of beneficial life lost. Take Italy, avg Covid death age - 79.5; avg Italy death age 82.5 - so not a huge loss of life-hours - esp. per capita (I think around 7-8 hours or so). And many people didn't have great quality of life. Compare with 90's Russia - 'structural adjustment' reduced avg life expectancy by 4 years, per many studies - so about 5,000 time worse, by that measure. I'm afraid that our response to Covid may result in economic 'adjustments' that will shorten average lives by a much greater amount overall than Covid itself. That's why I think we should advocate for getting back to work quickly and sensibly, and immediately eliminate anti-science regulations - e.g in NJ, I have to break to law to go for a walk in a park. Thanks again.

jbingeorgia
jbingeorgia

If you cannot ascertain the accuracy of the data you use to argue your point with, how can you be certain of your argument. Antibody testing has occurred in two locations in California, and each purports to show that 25-80% higher infection rates, which greatly reduces the mortality rate. However, who is to say that those tests are accurate? To me, we are all just pissing in the wind with our arguments, including Mish, because there is no certainty the data we're using to base our arguments on are accurate. I do know one thing and I need only look at the bailout facilities the FED has set up to know it, leave the economy locked down and we'll all be the state of Illinois that Mish hates so badly for mismanagement. It most likely is already too late, honestly. So, the argument of it just being like a bad flu (or not) is moot and does water down the real point, that the economy was never as strong as it was purported to be, the repo crisis was well underway throughout 2019 and the virus is beautiful cover for the FED and the large banks to do their thing. We're borderline on the cusp of major supply chain breakdowns (meat is a good example) and we're all stuck arguing how severe this is while the economy crumbles. We can't be certain of political or financial motivations behind if deaths are being under-reported or over-reported, another failure of our systems (political & financial). Regardless of if the virus is this bad or that bad, or not that serious... the failure of so many of our systems is evident and we need to be focusing on why. This will absolutely NOT be the last time we're in crisis mode, and now that we've burned as much dry powder as we have on this, we're severely limited on the ability to tackle the next "crisis".

LegitJerry
LegitJerry

CRTL+F “ASYMPTOMATIC”
Not found

CRTL+F “ILI CURVE”
Not found

Your “analysis” looks great to those that are willing to throw on the blinders to “Git Drumpf”. Have you considered the implications of the asymptomatic data that is coming in from multiple studies? I believe you carefully ignored that data to please your current audience that fears the orange man.

Realist
Realist

Hey Mish.

Accurate, cogent, succinct.

Could be the best post I have read from you since I started reading 5 years ago.

Bravo!

amigator
amigator

Yes good post I understand now. It is not really about the number of deaths. We don't care about that it is the rate at which the deaths occur. As long as we can manage the deaths its ok to let people die and doesn't really require much more action from the rest of us. I have been trying to understand why all these other deaths really do not seem to matter and I get it now.
Thank you sir.

Captain Ahab
Captain Ahab

Commonsense Quiz: what was the cause of death?

a) You have Covid-19, I shoot you in the head with a shotgun.
b) You have diabetes, you catch Covid-19; you die of massive lung damage.
c) You have Covid-19; you die of massive lung damage.
d) You have Covid-19, you die from a stroke.

Trump and Team failed to respond to the crisis effectively. The lack of masks was a major issue--the 'you don't need a mask coverup' made them look like morons.

Commonsense approach: a national appeal for people to sew masks. Provide on-line patterns and approved materials. Pay $5 per mask if made to specifications. Establish collection points. Masks are compulsory outside the home, and recommended if sharing the home with others.

SteveVT
SteveVT

Business won't restart until August 1st when the ridiculous extra $ for unemployment payouts stops. A worker previously paid $15/hour, makes roughly $24/hour on unemployment. Nutty disincentive to work. Business will not be able to hire workers until that bump expires on July 31. Opening won't happen until then.

KidHorn
KidHorn

Technically, the only cause of death is heart failure.

On the Internet, everyone who attended a calculus class is an expert at mathematics and critical analysis.

njbr
njbr

Yeah, sure, it's a world-wide conspiracy to shut down capitalism/damage Trump. I know there are cases where scared soldiers shot themselves in the foot to avoid the battle, but really now--who really wants what's going on? This is like gut-shooting yourself so you can get a $1200 check.

The fact is that everywhere in the world that it has been checked (countries and regions in Europe), as well as China, total excess deaths in the time of CV are about 50% higher than the official CV toll. So if you have 40,000 deaths, over the same period of time there are another 20,000 deaths above the "normal base-line" of death. Did the 20,000 die directly of undiagnosed CV? Who knows, but still the number of deaths is 60,000 higher than normal. So in the end, we are under-counting deaths to a certain extent but this is true of any deadly epidemic.

I think it interesting how there is so much blather about China under-counting without realizing this is going on all over in the west.

Given that Trump is the only one claiming special expanded powers in this troubled times, I would think a perfectly valid conspiracy theory would be that Trump wanted the virus to hit hard so he could take on "war-time" powers and wouldn't have to face re-election.

HAL9000
HAL9000

The dream cure is to add zinc,
Who am I to disagree?
It traveled the world so terribly,
Everybody is gonna get COVID.

(Name that tune!)

Zardoz
Zardoz

Facts seem to have really riled the Flu Klux Clan. They get angry when stripped of their cloak of BS.

njbr
njbr

Telemedicine and hopium

... From March 23 to April 6, Fox News personalities and guests mentioned hydroxychloroquine nearly 300 times. But that's changed in recent days. Media Matters found that between April 16 to April 20 mentions of the drug dropped 77% compared to the previous five-day period....

...During Tuesday's White House briefing, Trump — who repeatedly asked what Americans had to lose by taking the drug — was asked about the new VA study. He pleaded ignorance. "I don't know of the report," Trump said. He promised the White House will be "looking at it."...

...Despite having previously pushed the drug as a possible treatment, neither Tucker Carlson nor Sean Hannity mentioned the study on their Fox News shows Tuesday night. I didn't see Laura Ingraham, who reportedly visited the White House to promote the drug, discuss it either. Fox published a digital story on the Tuesday study, but it fell off the website's homepage after a few hours. And, according to CNN's Betsy Klein, Trump hasn't mentioned it in a week...

Mike2112
Mike2112

Living in the NYC area I can tell you that MANY ppl will tell you of the nasty bug they had in Jan and Feb that had them coughing like a chain smoker for about 3 weeks. Some had mild fevers, some had high fevers.

A coworker's kid who attends a college in the Northeast tells me her son and his friends at the dorm were all sick mid-Jan with fever and coughs. ALL tested neg. for the flu.

Wife's father ends up in hosp. in mid-jan with heart failure after taking a cruise. The Dr's attribute it to eating high sodium food on the boat. He's there a week and everyday we're bringing him cough drops b/c he couldnt stop coughing. My wife is an RN. Her hospital has a lot of covid cases, and she's seeing a good amount of heart failure and cases just like her father's situation in Jan.

This virus has been here for a few months, but no one knew it back in Jan and Feb so there were no diagnoses for covid. So yes, more ppl have died from covid but A LOT more ppl have had it and recovered. Consider all the healthcare workers who were working in Jan with no PPE. Many likely caught it and got over it.

RonJ
RonJ

"Here's the reality: If you die in a car crash and had diabetes, you died with diabetes. If you die of Covid and had diabetes, you died of Covid."

The reality is that few healthy people are dying. Likely, had the person not had diabetes, they would not have died having Covid.

Quatloo
Quatloo

Mish, I noticed you didn’t include the 1918 Spanish flu in your chart, why was that?

You have taken a lot of potshots at those proposing ways to deal with the crisis, yet I have not yet heard how you think we should be dealing with it. Maybe I missed it?

It is one thing to say the sky is falling and we need more data, testing, and once we have all of that, then we will make a decision on how to handle things. It is another to figure out how to handle things today, right now, with the data we have. Interested in your perspective on that.

There is polarization between locking down the nation and letting people use their judgment, but there is a lot of room in the middle. Same with pumping out money versus letting businesses fail. There is also the difference between a one-size-fits-all approach and handling things differently for inner-city populations and rural populations.

Every day more people are losing their jobs, and with it the ability to pay their rent and buy food for their family. Every day businesses are failing, not because people don’t want to buy from them, but because government prevents that from happening.

Saying we need more testing and bashing Trump is not a solution. Yes, a lot is being done that is bad. But decisions have to be made today, right now (do we let people do what they think is best, do we lock down people and businesses, do we pump more money into the economy). There are economic programs, there are lockdowns, do you support them? What would you do differently today (as opposed to some point in the future when you have more data or more testing)? Should everyone be under the same restrictions, should the restrictions be increased or loosened?

I’m interested in your perspective.

parks6n580
parks6n580

the CDC data is pretty interesting to look at. look at US deaths from 2/1 - 4/18 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/COVID19/index.htm

Montana33
Montana33

Thank you Mish for an excellent post. I marvel at people’s inability to grasp even the simplest data concepts. We are about to witness a massive wave 2 coming from the South. Why isn’t anyone talking about how China beat covid19? Yes they were late which makes it even more impressive that they won the battle. I can’t figure out why Trump prefers wave 2 of the contagion over containment? Does he think the economy won’t shut down again?

indubitably
indubitably

Hey parks, I posted that 5 hours ago. No one here seems to be interested in commenting on the actual death counts posted by the CDC for the last 11 weeks.
Perhaps the "illiterates" are just not interested in data from actual death certificates?

MATHGAME
MATHGAME

It looks like we'll soon get to observe some "experiments" ... from a recent news story:

"What happens when the coronavirus is prevalent and you send people out anyway?

We’re on the verge of finding out, thanks to some Republican-controlled states that are willing to serve as reopening guinea pigs. The governors of Georgia, South Carolina and Alaska are allowing some businesses to reopen this week, as long as they follow distancing and sanitary guidelines. Tennessee will allow many businesses to reopen May 1. Florida and several other states are working on reopening plans.

None of those states meets the Trump administration guidelines for reopening businesses. Those guidelines say, among other things, that a state must have a declining trajectory of coronavirus cases for 14 days straight before reopening. If the number rises for a single day, the clock resets and the 14-day countdown starts over again."

awc13
awc13

This today from the governor of Washington

"And in an address to the state he said a return to public life will take a series of steps and that until several markers are met — including adequate testing and a vaccine — preventing an increase in new cases is still the main priority."

preventing an increase in new cases. so, his goal is to keep everyone in isolation until there are no new cases.

wow. good luck with that. everyone is to stay home until a vaccine and no new cases.

awc13
awc13

area under the curve is important, not just the rate of change

NavyMan2516
NavyMan2516

This article is absurd. I'm in Georgia and I'm glad we're re-opening. People who are not working will soon be starving....how many are we willing to kill from starvation to stop a virus?

I hate to tell you but......The Emperor is not wearing any clothes....but you can't see that, can you? This virus is simply not that dangerous for MOST people. It's a fever and a runny nose. Hell, its so weak that a large number are asymptomatic. Are we going to destroy the economy and condemn potentially millions to die from starvation because of a fever and a runny nose? Do nothing and 2 million die; kill the economy and 300 million will die. Given that false choice, I'd still to nothing.

Even the CDC shows that the flu is killing more than this weak virus: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm
What do you think of those "data concepts"?

Live is a risk. Life is a gamble. Life and freedom are not for the weak. If you are afraid of this virus and are willing to destroy our freedom and economy because of it, you piss on everyone who struggled to secure it. Our rights and freedom cannot be rescinded with a doctor's note. Live free or die!

Joe6Pack
Joe6Pack

According to NYC Health until April 14 over 72% of all deaths were ppl over 65, of which the vast majority had severe underlying medical conditions. Of all fatalities under the age of 65, the overwhelming majority had serious underlying medical conditions (>97%). Doesn't it make more sense to quarantine the sick and weak, and let healthy ppl go about their business, instead of letting the economy implode. I wonder how you would feel Mish, if you had been laid off and were in line for a foodbank somewhere, bc you can't feed your family
link NYCH and line foodbank YT

Quatloo
Quatloo

Mish, this post of yours may end up the most commented on for quite some time. Looks like you started a pretty active discussion.

Mark Sircus
Mark Sircus

Reading to the end I could hardly believe it was you talking.....So destroy the world it is, we all know it was doomed anyway....and I bet you will fly with words when they come out with a vaccine for this.....and of course no one is dying from 5G or other overdoses of radiation (CT, PET and radiation for cancer)....are you for forced vaccinations, cannot have people running around risking others right? Mish taking such a hard stance on this is going to kill a lot of people, you know that right?


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