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Covid- Looking at the Numbers

We’re starting to see the big numbers showing up on Covid – 46,490,733 total cases to date and 760,551 deaths ( usafacts.org).  Likewise, I see more cases, and more deaths, among friends and neighbors.  For quick and sloppy math, let’s assume 50 million cases in a population of 330 million – the numbers aren’t exactly right, but it’s a lot easier to figure that 5 out of every 33 Americans have had covid.

We can argue that unreported cases increase the numbers.  We can argue that poor testing inflates the numbers.  Regardless, it’s going to be on the order of 16% – and I recall that, when the Spanish Flu ended, one out of four people had gone through that infection.  Comparing that figure with Covid infections suggest that we’ve reached the end of the beginning and are moving toward the beginning of the end.  Personally, it’s not soon enough – but the hazy numerical trend is visible.   At Trego school, 5 of 27 students have been sick with covid – 18.5%, not significantly different from national statistics.

Is the Corona virus going to be like the flu – changing just enough to be a perpetual seasonal plague?  Will we see an increasing amount of deaths?  Beats me – I’m a demographer, not a virologist.  What I do know is that having several host species has made the flu harder to fight – swine flu, bird flu – and easier to keep developing new variants.  The Corona may be with us regularly – just as Spanish flu was an H1N1 variety, we’ve had other H1N1 returns.  Spanish flu was credited with 675,000 US deaths – out of a 1920 population of 106 million – a rate somewhere around 0.6 percent.  Somewhere on the order of one out of each 160 Americans died of Spanish flu.  Each death was significant to the people who died, to their families and friends – just as the ¾ million listed as dying of covid.

The vaccines we have are fragile – and apparently need boosters not years later, but months.  Still, the Spanish flu showed that most of those infected survive.  It took the better part of a thousand years to develop effective immunization for smallpox.  Totally whipping the coronavirus may take a while.  It may not be in my lifetime.  But as more and more people catch and fight off the virus, as the virus spreads through the population, the resistance to infection increases.

The numbers show that it may be a while before we see the end of the pandemic, we have passed the end of the beginning.  In a normal distribution, when we’re past the first 16%, we’re starting into the portion that is considered normal.

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