In 2018 there were, in the UK, 1,782 deaths and 160,378 injuries from road traffic accidents. At the time of writing, in the first three months of 2020 there have been, from the 1,950 people tested positive with the Covid-19 virus in the UK, 60 deaths and 65 recoveries.

Has anyone ever suggested that we should stay indoors, not drive and avoid the roads due to the unlikely threat of death? When did we last see panic buying of warning triangles and spare airbags? RTA victims rarely recover to full ability, unlike those contracting the current panic virus.

For most people, catching the virus results in a mild illness. Even the worst projections show that something like 0.05% of the population will suffer possibly premature death over the 18 months or so expected period and many of them will have “underlying health problems” (i.e. already on borrowed time). This may appear cynical, but I am one of those with relevant “underlying health problems”.

The number of 20,000 UK deaths has been quoted as “a good result”. In 2018 there were over 540,000 deaths in England and Wales alone (i.e. excluding Scotland and Northern Ireland) from all causes. One would expect a large overlap between the 20,000 and the 540,000, followed by a later decrease in “natural” deaths after the purge.

The virulence of this virus (tautology) is worrying, but its effects are not. “Don’t Panic!”, “Keep calm and carry on”. Phrases that most Brits will recognise and may wish to reflect on.

Published by

General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

5 thoughts on “Comparisons”

  1. Well the difference is that COVID 19 deaths will grow astronomically without intervention. That’s no longer true of the road toll.

    The virus will also leave a wake of injured and maimed people. Ventilating older people often leaves them with significant and ongoing deficits, not to mention what life is like with half your lung surface area reduced to fibroids.

    Rapid and unchecked spread will leave many to die on trolleys if they can even gain admission to hospital, an outcome no one wants for a family member.

    You’re right that we must keep calm and carry on, but don’t underestimate the seriousness of it. Wash hands and get on with life is good advice 🙂

  2. Also, the fatality rate may wind up to be far, far higher than one expects. Italy has about 36,000 cases, with 6,000 deaths. This a rate of about 8.5%!

  3. Encouragingly, on my drive to work this morning, folk do seem to be driving at a more sedate rate. Current estimate (radio 4 oversimplification this morning) is that 2/3 of the Covid-19 deaths would have occurred anyway. Tricky stuff , statistics.

    Regards, Chris

    1. The drawback in citing auto accident deaths, or deaths from the flu, as reasons why we may all be over-reacting to the virus, is that these numbers have to be considered in relation to the populations they are drawn from. The likelihood of dying in an auto accident in the U.S., is about 1 in 8000. The likelihood of dying from the flu is about 1 in 100. The likelihood of dying from COVID-19, in Italy last week, was 1 in 12. The italian government has used convoys of army trucks to haul corpses to the incinerators. It’s hard to envision things getting that bad where we live. I would imagine it was hard for the Italians to envision it, too.

  4. As I said, statistics are tricky, and never more so in an evolving situation. It will not be possible to gauge a true fatality rate until the epidemic is over, and until then all we can do is model. Until the pandemic peaks, estimates will tend to overstate the fatality rate because they are comparing deaths with the currently symptomatic or confirmed positive population, not the total asymptomatic but infected population. It would be cynical of me to believe that the press is concentrating on its home turf of London and New York, which is where the epicentres are.

    I cannot comment on the state of affairs in NHS secondary or tertiary care, which is where the press seems to be focussing its attention; but in primary care, where I work, we are reconfiguring to clear the decks of routine preventative care in order to concentrate on the highest risk cases. This will have consequences downstream, but of a “I’m still waiting to have my painful knee/hip/neck sorted out” nature. We are confident that the caseload is manageable if folk can self-isolate enough to flatten the peak out.

    The take-home message is still the same for anyone thinking of having a traffic accident or falling off a wobbly ladder doing DIY: “Now is a bad time to do it”

    Kind regards, Chris.

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