Saturday, August 21, 2021

A Bad Comparison

I think it's probably obvious that I take covid about as seriously as any non-medical person does, or at least anyone who hasn't had close family or friends die from the disease. 

And 630,000 dead is horrendous and unforgivable.

But I still have to question the judgment of people who tweet things like this. (I'm not even going to cite who it's from because I think it's so off the mark.)

US casualties of the American Civil War

US reported COVID Deaths as of August 2021

Yes, sure, the absolute numbers of people who've died from covid are approaching the number dead from the Civil War.

But the relative size of the U.S. population was less than a 10th as much in 1860 (about 31.5 million), and the Civil War dead were almost all from one sex and in the relatively early years of life. 

The impact of that much loss of life (even if it hadn't been from a war) was staggering. We would have to lose more than 7.5 million people to equal its scale today, and even then if it was equally distributed among genders it would be less bad than the Civil War's resulting gender imbalance. 

Covid is a lot, it's terrible, and it may get even worse. But we don't have to make it seem worse than it is, relative to the past. 

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