First off, the covid19 mortality rate to date is unknown. We only know deaths of people who have tested positive for the virus. In many nations testing has been poor. How many people have died untested? We just don’t know. Secondly, daily deaths continue; so we will not have a total for many more months. What we do know is the number of excess deaths — the total number of deaths from all causes compared to the average number over the same period in the past 5 or 10 years. Many are caused indirectly because of the pandemic: partly because health care resources are diverted to deal with the pandemic and partly because sick people decide not to attend hospital, either through fear of contracting the pandemic or out of an, often mistaken, desire not to increase the work load of health workers.

Measures to limit the spread of the pandemic assist in ensuring that health services can cope with the increase in demand for such resources.

Finally, you are looking at the death rate as it is after the measures taken to reduce it. We will never know what the death rate might have been had those measures not been taken. Death rate from annual winter flu is suppressed because vulnerable groups are vaccinated. There is, as yet, no vaccine for Covid-19.

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Frank is a retired Engineer from England now living in Ireland. He is trying to learn and share the lessons of history.

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