We’ll Count the (Actual) Dead in 2021


Over 100,000 people have (so far) been killed by Covid-19. More than the 119,686 listed on the John’s Hopkins website tonight. Those are just the dead who passed away in the hospital, who were already tested for Covid-19 before they passed away.

As the weeks of deaths roll by, what is becoming clearly evident is that a lot of people are dying at home, dying in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, dying waiting for a bed in the emergency room, or dying from what seems to be something unrelated. The dead are rarely, if ever, being tested after they are dead, and thus the 119,686 value is a lower bound, not reality.

Add to that the outbreaks quickly building in the poorer nations. Those countries are testing less than 2 in 1,000 residents, 10-20 times less than in Italy, UK, U.S., and South Korea. India and Indonesia are not even testing 1 in 1,000.

Without such testing, we’re entering the next phase of the pandemic, the fog of war phase. This is where the John’s Hopkins’ website might as well go dark, as we don’t know how many people are dying in North American and Europe, and we have no idea how many people are sick in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the rest of Southeast Asia, and all of Africa.

In the next 45 days, half the world’s population is going to get infected and we’ll be as blind to the extent as we were back in 2018.

In 2021, when most of us get through this, we’ll have a pretty good count of the total dead for the year 2020. That is a statistic that every public health authority tracks. We know (more or less) how many people died in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The count will be higher in 2019. We can attribute the overage to Covid-19 and in hindsight, see how bad it was.

In foresight, there isn’t anything we can do but settle in, keep our distance, and pray the number is only in the millions, not the tens of millions.

UPDATE: Last week New York changed the way they count who has died of Covid-19. “Probable” cases are not an inconsequential number compared to the confirmed cases.

UPDATE: The Financial Times published their analysis of excess deaths:

By "Luni"


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