Saturday, November 14, 2020


 The pandemic is on everyone's mind these days, as it should be.  So far there are 54,318,841 cases world wide, and 1,318,044 deaths to date.  (Worldometer).  In the U.S. we have 11,226,038 cases and, so far 251,256 deaths.  (Worldometer - U.S.)    This is terrible.  And the restrictions placed on us to try to control it are irksome, and it's spiraling out of control because we're getting tired of them.

But in a historical context, how bad is it really?  A little over a million dead worldwide, out of a population of 7.8 billion.  That's one in 6,000 people, world wide, roughly .017% of world population.  In the U.S., with a population of 331,740,396, it's one in about 1,320 people, or .76% - worse than the worldwide stats, but then we are the number one hotspot these days.  Population statistics from the World Population  Review for the U.S..

A recent Candorville cartoon claimed that the 1918 flu killed 1 person in 75.  This is a little simplistic, because estimates of the total number of deaths range from 17.4 million (.95% of world population) to 50 million (2.7%) to 100 million (5.4%).  World population at the time was estimated at 1.8 billion.  (Numbers from the Our World in Data article on the Spanish flu.)

Compare that to our estimate for the coronavirus of .017% of world population and .76% of U.S. population.

For an even more horrific example, consider the Black Death (bubonic plague) which devastated Europe in the mid-14th century.  Wikipedia says it "is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population." That's between 1 in 3 and 1 in 6 people.  It took until 1500 to reach the population Europe had in 1300.  And at that period, medical knowledge was rudimentary and hospitals were run by religious orders. We now know it was caused by a virus carried by rats and fleas; the actual cause of the bubonic plague wasn't identified until the mid-19th century. So people died from a nameless disease and didn't know where it came from.

I'm not saying we have it easy right now.  I'm just suggesting it could be worse.  We're also flooded with news about our pandemic, every day, all day, on general media sources and social media.  We've also come to believe that modern medicine can cure everything, because up till now it's done a pretty good job overall.  So we have trouble believing it can't cure this.  It may yet, there are promising vaccines on the way.  Until they get here, mask up and remember - it could be worse.

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