Death Rates Plummeting

In my opinion, the covid lockdowns in Europe, the U.S. and some other countries have been one of the worst public health fiascos in recent history. I don’t know whether the true story will ever be written, but we have devastated the lives of our young people and destroyed countless businesses–in other words, people’s lives–in a vain attempt to reduce the death rate among the elderly and frail. The Wuhan bug is a disease, and as such a bad thing. But its fatality is concentrated, to an even greater extent than a typical seasonal flu, among those who are not only elderly but are already sick.

This implies that a large majority of those who died from covid in 2020 or 2021 in all likelihood would have died relatively soon in any event–later in 2020 or 2021, or in 2022, and so on. In the U.S. and Europe, overall death rates have in fact been elevated over the past year. But if this hypothesis is correct, we should see lower than normal death rates over the next couple of years. If that happens, it will put the Wuhan epidemic in quite a different light.

The U.K. is ahead of the U.S. on the covid time line, and now, for the first time, total death rates there are falling below the historic average:

Deaths in England and Wales have fallen below the five-year average for the first time since September, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
In the week ending March 12, there were 10,987 deaths registered in England and Wales, which was 511 fewer than the average for that week over the past five years.

The number of Covid-19 deaths has been greater than the number of excess deaths for a number of weeks. Statisticians said that this might reflect coronavirus having killed vulnerable people earlier in the year who might otherwise have died in winter.

Exactly. The same thing appears to be happening in America, as this chart shows. This is the CDC’s tabulation of total deaths from all causes. You can see that, contrary to what some have suggested, the Wuhan epidemic did indeed cause a significant increase in total fatalities:

It is too early to tell for certain, since reporting of deaths lags somewhat. But it appears likely that within the next few weeks, total deaths in the U.S. will, as in Britain, fall below demographically predicted levels. Over the next two or three years, demographers will follow these numbers, and we will be able to tell whether, as I suspect, the main impact of the coronavirus was to accelerate deaths among the extremely vulnerable by a few months, or a year or two. If that proves to be the case, the devastation wrought by governors’ shutdowns will be weighed in the balance and, I think, found to be the result of a disastrous miscalculation.

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