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Could the Covid19 Response be More Deadly than the Virus?

Could the Covid19 Response be More Deadly than the Virus?

The economic, social and public health consequences of these measures could claim millions of victims

The initial, alarming estimates of deaths from the virus COVID-19 were that as many as 2.2 million people would die in the United States. This number is comparable to the annual US death rate of around 3 million. Fortunately, correction of some simple errors in overestimation has begun to dramatically reduce the virus mortality claims. 

The most recent estimate from “the leading US authority on the COVID-19 pandemic” suggests that the US may see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, with the final tally likely to be somewhere in the middle.” This means that we are expecting around 150,000 US deaths caused by the virus, if the latest estimates hold up.

How does that compare to the effects of the measures taken in response? By all accounts, the impact of the response will be great, far-reaching, and long-lasting. 

To better assess the difference we might ask, how many people will die as a result of the response to COVID-19? Although a comprehensive analysis is needed from those experienced with modeling mortality rates, we can begin to estimate by examining existing research and comparative statistics. Let’s start by looking at three critical areas of impact: suicide and drug abuse, lack of medical treatment or coverage, and poverty and food access.

SUICIDES AND DRUG ABUSE

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 48,000 suicides occurred in the US in 2018. This equates to an annual rate of about 14 suicides per 100,000 people. As expected, suicides increase substantially during times of economic depression. For example, as a result of the 2008 recession there was an approximate 25% increase. Similarly, during a peak year of the Great Depression, in 1932, the rate rose to 17 suicides per 100,000 people.

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