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A new round of statistics for Covid-19 was released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), on Monday, vastly revising their initial figures on the global virus.  In early March they stated that the infection fatality rate (IFR) for COVID-19 was 3.4%Now, head of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, said to a special session of the WHO’s 34-member executive board in Geneva,  ”our best estimate is that 10 percent of the world has been infected with the virus – around 750 million people – and roughly 1 million people have died.   

The infection fatality rate is calculated by dividing the number of deaths over a specific period of time by the number of individuals diagnosed with the disease during that time; the resulting ratio is then multiplied by 100 to calculate the percentage. These official figures bring the infection fatality rate for the world, to 0.13% – confirming observations made at the start of the pandemic that the fatality rate would be similar to that of the flu.   

Official CDC figures estimate the flu fatality rate as follows: 

 

The 2017/2018 flu season stands out as being particularly bad and was considered a pandemic, with an infection fatality rate of at least 0.18%. The death toll was “more than 80,000.

On March 26, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Clifford Lane from the National Institutes of Health, and CDC Director Robert Redfield, actually disagreed with the WHO’s initial 3.4% Infection Fatality Rate prediction.  In the New England Journal of Medicine, they projected that once the true number of asymptomatic and subclinical cases were included: 

 “The overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957, 1968,) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively. 

Note too, the WHO does not distinguish between people who died with the Covid-19 virus, rather than because of it. Even though data shows that of those categorized as dying “with the virus,” a majority would have died within the year without a Covid-19 diagnosis.  

Overreacting to the WHO’s initial fatality rate prediction has had many real-life consequences.  

By one measure, the Covid-19 response in developed countries by way of shutdowns, and restrictions to business, commerce, and production disproportionately affects countries in the developing world. Oxfam International, a world-wide charity for famine relief in these countries released a report last Thursday estimating that 121 million more people could be “pushed to the brink of starvation this year,” with as many as 12,000 dying a day from hunger due to the shutdowns. They estimate this in addition to more people dying from missed vaccinations, malaria, and medical treatment. 

At home, lockdowns have suppressed the protective factors that guard against drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide and may lead to 75,000 deaths. They have cost jobs, curtailed gatherings for worship, and shut down more than 100,000 U.S. businesses 

Surgeries have been delayed and doctors project 10,000 excess cancer deaths in America as a result of delayed screening caused by lockdowns. 50% of cancer patients have not had their chemotherapy treatments, transplant operations are down almost 85%, and evaluations on stroke emergencies are down 40%.  

The Brookings Institution posits that there will be “a drop of perhaps 300,000 to 500,000 births in the U.S” next year. They conclude this is due to anguish and uncertainty, not deaths among women of childbearing age.   

Domestic violence and malnutrition in kids have climbed too. Researchers found 212,500 cases of child abuse have gone unreported due to the lockdown — a consequence of children not going to school, where many instances of abuse are often first detected.   

Isolation, lockdowns, and unemployment have real impacts in a very serious way. 

Carol King received a first-class BA (honors) in History and Politics from Stirling University, along with an exceptional commendation for a study on US public opinion and Foreign Policy. She also completed a year of study at the University of London before taking up a Graduate Proctor Fellowship at Princeton University. She further completed an MPhil in American Politics at Dundee University. Aspiring to be a writer/commentator on American politics, she now writes for UncoverDC.

Twitter: @CarolKing561