The Man decides to tell us all that covid is very much worse than ‘flu. In which he might even be right. But then:
So, maybe 600 ‘flu deaths a year. Right now we have seen more than 150,000 Covid 19 deaths. Let’s not pretend that there is any comparison or that because we can live with ‘flu deaths we can live with Covid deaths.
He uses as his data course this report. No, really, this is his source:
We often count “influenza and pneumonia” together because many cases of pneumonia are in fact caused by influenza.
So, looking at influenza only is not correct. We must look at both pne and ‘flu. It’s right there in the source.
Just for the avoidance of doubt yes, these numbers are “of” not “with”.
OK, yes, covid deaths are higher. Not exactly an exceptional finding in the middle of a pandemic:
Between 1 January and 31 August 2020, 52,327 deaths in England and Wales involved COVID-19. Out of these, 48,168 deaths were due to COVID-19: that is, COVID-19 was the underlying cause. This was 12.4% of all deaths for the period (389,835 deaths). In the same period 69,781 deaths involved pneumonia and 506 deaths involved influenza: out of these, 13,619 and 394 deaths were due to pneumonia and influenza respectively (3.5% and 0.1% of all deaths).
But note one more thing. He’s using the figures only from that middle of the pandemic. And – in what should not be a surprise to an economist – there’s substitution going on. Covid and pneumonia/influenza kill largely the same group of people. Those with comorbities and those with that comorbidity called age. Not exclusively, of course not, but the overlap is considerable.
As ONS, in the same report, points out:
It’s not entirely true that covid only kills those diabetic, fat, smokers over 80 waiting around for whichever ‘flu season will take them off but it is at least in part true.
The actual effect of covid is therefore, at the population level, the number killed by covid minus those not killed by pneumonia and influenza in the same time period. Or at least that’s a far better estimate than the absence of influenza deaths in the middle of this pandemic.
And, note, all of this is for the period when there were no vaccines. So, once we vaccinate, as we largely have, then the numbers are going to be…….