I keep seeing people seize on the mortality rate of Covid - about 1.5% - as proof that it isn’t very dangerous. So out of curiosity I looked up the mortality rate of cancer, something we all agree is dangerous. It’s about 165 in 100,000, or .16%.
Cancer death rates are actually like Covid in many ways - the older you are, the more likely you are to die from it, by a long shot. But that doesn’t make us not scared of cancer when young people get it. And the key thing here of course is that cancer isn’t contagious.
So this year, you are 10 times more likely to die of Covid than of cancer. And cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States - about 40% of people will get cancer at some point in their lives.
Without social distancing, because of Covid’s level of contagiousness, it was estimated that 30-60% of people would get it within the next year or two. So about 10x more people would die of Corona than cancer.
Now this definitely isn’t me saying cancer is no big deal - I lost my grandma to cancer when I was 4 (she was 53) and most of us have stories like that. My point is that people don’t understand mortality rates so 1.5% doesn’t seem that bad but it IS.
Of course these statistics don’t exist in a vacuum and they’re complicated. Many people who die of Corona had other diseases. Many people who have cancer die of other diseases (like pneumonia). But the fact is we have a cultural perception that cancer is dangerous and Covid isn’t
So don’t look at a 1.5% mortality rate and think “no big deal.” 1.5% of 40% of 350 million people is over 2 million who would die - and that’s 10x more than would die of cancer. 2 million extra deaths is HUGE.
Let’s think also about people who get cancer but don’t die. Do we ever think, hey, no big deal! You had cancer but you didn’t die? Who cares? No - we rightfully understand that getting cancer at all is terrifying, traumatic, expensive, and has long lasting effects.
It might ~seem~ like it makes sense to say Corona is overblown bc the mortality rate is “only” 1.5% but just because something appears logical doesn’t mean it is. And if you could avoid cancer by wearing a mask and not going to parties, would you do it?
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