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[flagged] Covid Deaths (covid19deaths.netlify.app)
27 points by kinlan 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

In public health, mortality and morbidity are often expressed in units of DALY (Disability-adjusted life years) or QALY (Quality-adjusted life years).

Because COVID deaths are being predominantly borne by the old, and deaths due to war are predominantly borne by the young, I would be very curious to see the equivalent charts in DALYs.

In other words, not "what is the number deaths" but "what is the expected number of healthy years of life lost."

Thanks for mentioning DALY. It seems like this would be a much better metric than counting deaths. I've been looking for regularly updated charts using YLL (years of life lost), but DALY seems even better. It's disappointing that DALY isn't the most commonly shared/referenced chart. I need to find COVID DALY numbers compared to other causes of death to better understand this.

Key difference would be the age demographics. Wars are so devastating not only because people die, but it is young people who die. As unethical as it sounds and completely from the perspective of impact on human capital, COVID is far less damaging.

That is a completely inhumane statement.

You may not believe that "the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members"; but how dare you say that someone losing a parent or loved one is "less damaging". And less damaging to what? The economy? The economy will survive. Your grandparents won't.

He specifically says "less damaging" ... "on human capital", implying a workforce/economic perspective.

I would suggest you consider toning down your outrage. It's important and necessary to be able to compare and contrast tragedies without devolving into arguments about the incommensurability of human life. Such discussions may appear cold and calculating ("inhumane") but we must have them - ignoring a part of reality because it hurts does not make it go away.

I have seen reactions similar to yours around people unused to discussing issues like medical triage. If we truly want to understand a phenomenon, mitigate its impact, and do the actual most good, we need to be able to analyze and compare things from all angles: social, economic, political, moral, emotional, etc.

So long as such discussions are conducted in a shared context of understanding how weighty and intense these issues are (as it seems to me the parent was doing), they are for the good.

It's also the case that "the economy" is what's paying for all our advanced healthcare that is saving lives and enabling people to live longer, healthier, happier lives. Recessions destroy lives as well, everything is a trade-off, a balance.

And people were clearly happy to make this trade-off every single day pre-corona. We don't lower the speed limit to 30mph, even though that would almost eliminate every single traffic accident. We don't ban certain pesticides that are really bad for the environment, because they work really well and increase the yield. We allow dangerous jobs where people can be maimed or killed, because someone needs to do it. We allow people to go parachuting, we allow smoking, unhealthy food, we allow people to own and use guns, even though all of these things let people injure and kill themselves and others.

Humans are notoriously bad at risk assessment, we undervalue known risks and overvalue unknown risks, and that's clearly what's going on with the lockdown hysteria, because the response is so clearly disproportional compared to how we're handling similar threats with similar risk profiles.

I don't like putting a dollar value on a human life so find it impossible to weigh damage to the economy and deaths.

I haven't seen much discussion about at what point damage to the economy means we can't feed ourselves and medicine stops flowing. I have always wondered if we could "pivot" fast enough to feed everybody if the economy literately died.

I did read somewhere that Australian cities have 7 days of clean water after international shipping stops (in war for example). We are dependent on international shipping for chemicals that clean our water.

> I don't like putting a dollar value on a human life

In the US the value of a human life is about $10 million, or about $150k per QALY.

Every single developed nation has put a dollar value on human life, and continues to do so, because without it you can't possibly allocate scarce resources like healthcare to achieve the greatest good. It helps save more lives than the alternative strategy you propose, i.e. sticking your head in the sand to avoid thinking about it because it's unpleasant.

I think there is a really giant leap between comparing an economists statistical value of a persons life, and some number that we guess might be the "damage to the economy".

What I'm suggesting is that we make sure we have food security, make sure we can provide medial care to the best of our ability, then pay whatever it costs to save peoples lives.

I would pay every sent I have to stay alive. I think most people would. I think the governments should take the same approach.

And yes, sure, most of the time it's super hard to decide what to do, but for this virus, we know all you have to do it isolate from each other for a few months. It's not even that hard.


As a side note I can't wait till somebody uses that 10m figure and applies it to deaths as a result of obesity. You think social isolation is hard, you should try giving up sugar, now that is hard!

Update: I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, Obesity linked to "100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year" or at 10m a life 10-40 Trillion Dollars a year.


Wise words. Wish more people took this measured approach to complex issues.

United States economically gained on WWII. So at least economically, that was not bigger loss.

So I don't think he meant economic loss from the event.


> Toning down my outrage? We are talking about human lives

I would be great very grateful to other HNers if someone could point me towards a book or resource for how to effectively communicate with people who are in this mental groove. I feel as though my point was missed, and I can't think of any more effective way to convey it.

(EDIT: I suppose I could say that outrage tends to shut down discussion by inciting emotion over reason. I feel just as strongly about these human lives, which is why I want to be able to talk about them clearly.

I do not think saying this will affect the parent's mode, and I'm wondering if there's some better way to do that.)

i have friends like this. if I'd asked. would you propose we ban cars? they'd just be even angrier. I've largely given up.

“Completely inhumane” is one of those phrases that immediately raises suspicion that someone is not listening but rather had already made their mind up. Do you really think that someone truly has no humanity? Isn’t it more likely that you don’t get where they’re coming from? Even intuitively, war seems much more damaging than a pandemic if an equal number of people die in both.

Quality-Adjusted Life Years is a common measure of disease burden. Also, I think a parent who has lost a child would have something to say to you about the difference in emotional impact

I totally agree. Sorry, I did preface it "As unethical as it sounds".

Your comment seems to be "cancelling" mine purely on emotional basis despite of prefacing my intentions. God forbid, if I had purely stated it with no warnings.

I agree, it is pretty shitty to thing to say that older people are not as valuable to the society as the young. There is objectivity and truth to it, although it might be unpleasant. I am afraid that this is what's going on in the world today - objectivity takes a backseat, emotional and knee-jerk "cancel" culture prevails. It deeply bothers me.

My only remaining grandfather is 89 years old. He still skies during the winter, his cognition is still good, that is to say he still has a full life.

I would kill him without thinking too hard if it meant saving my nephew, aged 10, from dying. My grandfather lived a full life and I'm sure if he had the choice to trade his life for his great grandchild he'd sacrifice what he has remaining in order to gift the chance at that same full life to his progeny.

On a societal scale we think the same way, an 80 year old dying is less bad than a 10 year old dying, its less tragic both emotionally and from society's perspective, economically. Losing a grandparent is tough, losing a sibling in the prime of their life is terrible, and losing a child is devastating. I can't comment on OP's feelings on the subject, they could have aid it in a callous and inhumane way, I don't know their inner thoughts, but the essence is true even if it is painful.

Here is a rundown of attempts to quantify the statistical value of a human life.


Obviously, these methods don’t account for the emotional value to loved ones. Maybe they should. Attempts to quantify that could include factors like mental health, and future wages (e.g. losing a parent earlier in life).

An interesting listen to how human life is valued was published fairly recently. Quite sobering: https://www.npr.org/2020/04/15/835571843/episode-991-lives-v...

Young people lose more of their own life than older people.

The older I get, the less I value the rest of my life. So it's fair to say that younger deaths are worse than older deaths on a society scale.

You value your life less as you get old; however, much like religion, we should not be forcing our own views on everyone else.

There are plenty of elderly who would love nothing more then to continuing to see their children, and their children's children grow up; and who would much rather not die intubated, or worse, suffocating.

Are you saying that elderly prefer to see their children die first or themselves? We're not debating whether they want to die or not, that's obvious. We're debating whether they value their lives more than their children or children's children.

Disagree. The average age of death from covid seems to be pretty much the same as average age of death in a few countries that I have seen the comparison done (Uk being one of them).

Do you really think keeping someone alive in a care home (where most of the deaths occurred) for an extra year or so is the same as someone in tehir 20's being killed?

You seem to underestimate the suffering that the economic damage will cause. It's already predicted that more will die from hunger due to the measures that have been taken than from the virus itself.


Wars kill old people too? Specifically care home people end up dying from lack of nutrition, inability to escape. Old handle hardship of being refuge badly.

WWII had higher civilian casualties then soldiers.

That is not to remove suffering of soldiers, but people here tend to talk about wars as if it did not affected everyone living there.

There is no "economic" reason somebody needs to die of hunger. We may choose not to give food to hungry people, and we might choose to not pivot to food production.

Are you going to get food to those people? I personally don't have the money to deliver it to all of them.

In countries like Sweden, it's possible that COVID is a net economic positive, by removing unproductive, high-cost individuals.

Wow, there’s a lot of eugenicists on tonight.

In my defense, it was sarcasm. Yes, I know it's the firmly held opinion of many here.

I've only ever seen people use that argument as a strawman when attacking people who argue against lockdowns, or who argue that Sweden's outcome is not a disaster.

How about if I stated it in terms of quality adjusted years of life and net health care system costs?

During World War I, the population of the world was 1.7 Billion. Just one of many other flaws in this comparison.

This chart is about covid in the US though so I suppose the global population isn't really the yardstick you want to use. US population in 1918 was around 100m [1]. If WWI deaths took place over 4 years it'd be around 30k per year [2]. With that as the basis the US covid death rate is quite a bit worse than WWI in terms of absolute numbers.

[1]: https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=kf7tgg1uo9ude_&...

[2]: Assuming the numbers in the chart are accurate, and that the deaths were evenly distributed across the 4 years

Add to the fact the US wasn't in the war for four years as claimed but sent troops in 1917.

Add the Civil War (~620,000), Spanish Flu (~675,000) and WWII (405,399) to the chart too.

Why is the US Election day marked on the graph? Is it saying "Lots of Covid deaths, also US Election wink wink"?

It strikes me as quite dishonest to put World War I, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, but not World War II on this chart. It's hard to imagine selection criteria that could generate that set of wars other than "don't put anything above the COVID line".

I'm skeptical of the source numbers here. The early dates on the X-axis were over 7-months ago.

Full factor mortality adjusted tallies from early months don't seem to be included? I can find no mention of full-factor mortality adjustments on covidtracking.com.

In other words, are the numbers verified and adjusted by other methods? Full-factor mortality is among the most accurate measurements of society. Yet there appears to be no mention of it. Did I miss it?

I like the intention, some comments from me:

1. The site starts off with "0 deaths" and hovers there for a second or two. I guess depending on how quickly the API can respond.

2. I personally believe COVID 19 is more comparable to the Spanish flu, therefore it should be illustrated on the same graph. I think that is probably 2-3 times the number of deaths due to COVID.

675,000 deaths in the US from Spanish Flu (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n...) over 2 years.

The US has always been different than other countries. It's the reason we have more gun deaths than other countries and it will be the reason we will always lead in pandemic deaths if they somehow reach our shores.

You will never get 20 million Americans per week to line up for testing unless it's the same 20 million over and over. You will never get Americans to sign up for voluntary contact tracing or vaccines. You can barely get half of us to wear masks all the time.

Furthermore, the federal government is limited in what it can enforce. It is up to the states individually to enforce these rules. The populace in many places have no desire to continue a locked-down, mask-mandated existence, regardless of the cost.

If COVID-19 had the same symptoms as Ebola all these things would change dramatically.

I say all this because the Election is marked on this timeline as if it's going to have a major impact on the pandemic in the U.S. I don't believe it will. We may see an impact but I think it will just be a result of having the pandemic fizzling out due to herd immunity etc.

Why don't they add in something for comparison, like yearly flu deaths, or road accients so people ca get a real perspective on this.

Personally I feel that it has been hyped up beyond belief but I am aware that many disagree. It appears to be around 3 times as bad as normal flu season (going by infection fatality rate), yet for flu we don't really bother much at all. A bad flu season may get some attention in the press but not much more, though a bad flu may double the IFR.

We are destroying economies because of covid, and I predict that the long term damage will be far worse than the virus. I think its important to keep a sense of perspective.

Since you've got the data wrong, it's any wonder why you'd think it's hype. Around 35,000 die of flu per year in the U.S. And by estimate it'll be 400K COVID-19 deaths by February. That's 10x in terms of deaths alone. That doesn't account for the economic impact.

The sheer willful ignorance required to propose that the economic impact is due to policy rather than self-interested reaction to the virus is magnificent. As if restaurants and bars are at partial capacity or closed only because of laws? It's ridiculous.

Laws or not, any business model that depended on close social gatherings, were doomed the moment the virus appeared. And the reality is that quite a lot of business models depend in part on people being closer than 6 feet apart, and they were going to feel an economic impact, no matter what. If that weren't true, we wouldn't see the commensurate drop in the common cold and flu.

It's like some people just want to be simplistic and shift the blame, just because they don't want to accept the unfairness of this virus. And also don't want to confront its disproportionate unfairness either, because that would mean having to at least consider making it more equitable in a distinctly ME ME ME! culture.

400K is an estimate. You say my numbers are wrong, when you are using made up numbers? Number of deaths are tailing off everywhere. I see no reason to expect the number of deaths to go that high in the US.

This article estimates between 39 - 56k for flu, more than your number.


Also given what you see in this video, coronavirus numbers are likely inflated due to the way they are calculated. Spain, Belgium and US essentially count every death that tested positive as a covid death.


Sweden coped fine without the panic and fear mongering around coronavirus. Looking at the number of deaths occurring just now the pandemic is essentially over for them.


It seems worse than the flu while we're locking down countries. The same measures applied to regular flu seem to essentially eradicate it (see other thread currently on the front page) while covid is shaping up to overwhelm our healthcare systems here in Europe once again, now that winter is coming. I see this a lot, comparing covid under "lock down, wear masks" treatment with regular influenza under what is really a control treatment...

The obvious test for that hypothesis would be Sweden, who's numbers have been pretty similar to most of Europe. The models used to justify lock down predicted 40,000 deaths there and nothing like that occurred.

How can we go back to a world where the normal flu causes so much damage now that we know how easy those deaths are to prevent?

We need to find a way to have an economy and maintain social distance.

It might mean wearing a mask all the time and staying away from work when you have any symptoms at all!

>How can we go back to a world where the normal flu causes so much damage now that we know how easy those deaths are to prevent?

Simple. Stop hyping it up in the media.

Do you now how many people die in the world every day? Wouldn't it be wise to mention that to keep everything in context? Here is a graphic to help you (you will notice that covid doesn't seem that big of a deal, and that is from the height of the pandemic):


Or say we go down your route, lock down everything for flu. Then what about cars, plenty of people die in road accidents? The logical conclusion would be that we all end up living like caged chickens, in sterile bubbles with no interaction where we can do no harm.

Personally I choose quality of life over quantity.

One thing to consider: This "3 times as bad" happened during summer in the northern hemisphere.

Influenza and corona viruses thrive from November to March, so it might likely get worse.

True, but I don't see any reason to assume it will be worse this time round for a number of reasons. (The IFR that I am using as a measure has been dropping rather than rising, as tests show way more asymptomatic cases).

* Many of the deaths were in care homes, the initial strategy was to send them there (in the countries that got hit early on). I think everyone realised in hindsight that this was a bad decision.

* Many of the most vulnerable people will have died already, the population that is left will be fitter and have more immunity. (A study of Mardid care homes showed 61% of residents had antibodies a few months back, and ~30% of staff).

* A lot more is known about the virus now.

* Everyone's lifestyle has changed massively.

We close schools for week when fly gets to spread in a city and that is enough to get it under control.

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