Some Mystifying Aspects of COVID-19

Bharat Dogra

The total number of deaths in world in a day is around 160000. The total number of deaths from COVID-19 disease per day ever since it emerged on the world scene over 5 months back has been around 1700. Hence the percentage of deaths caused by COVID-19 is just about 1 per cent of total deaths. It is strange that so many changes including very prolonged lockdowns in a major part of the world were caused by a disease responsible for only one per cent of total mortality over a five and a half month period.

Of course all precautions against COVID 19 particularly careful and frequent hand washing and maintaining of some social distance are very important to observe. But it is also important to place facts in the proper and larger perspective. We should say yes to precautions and no to panic.

The data for total world mortality per day was obtained by dividing the annual death toll of around 57 million or 570 lakh, as reported by the WHO, by 365. The COVID-19 deaths are counted from December 1 2019 to May 12 2020, about 163 days. The total accumulated number of COVID deaths on May 12 was reported at 292,369. This figure was divided by 163 to get the number of COVID-19 deaths per day.

In India the number of total deaths per day is similarly calculated at around 27000 per day. The number of COVID-19 deaths, counting from March 1 to May 12 has been 2415 in 73 days or around 32 per day, or about 0.1 per cent of total mortality. For a disease causing 0.1 per cent of total number of deaths, the country has faced lockdown for about 8 weeks and still counting.

The number of deaths caused in the entire world per day by tuberculosis is around 4100, compared to 1700 for COVID-19. This death rate of TB has occurred more or less for several years. TB is also a highly infectious disease. Yet no lockdown was ever declared due to TB.

In India there are 1090 deaths per day for TB and 32 deaths per day for COVID-19. This death-rate for TB has occurred for several years but no lockdown was ever declared for TB.

In the entire world every day about 2460 children below age 5 years die due to pneumonia (the adults who die due to this disease are additional) but despite this no lockdown has ever been declared on account of pneumonia. In India around 400 children die every day due to this disease.

Every day about 8200 persons die in the world die due to various alcohol related causes compared to 1700 for COVID 19. In India over 1000 per persons die due to alcohol related causes compared to 32 for COVID-19.

Fatality rate for TB at world level is around 15 which is around 5 times higher than some of the high-end estimates for COVID 19. However, many eminent scientists have mentioned that the prevailing estimates for COVID 19 are artificially high and actually the fatality rate for COVID 19 may not be significantly higher than the fatality rate for a bad season of seasonal flu and that the fatality rate of COVID 19 is unlikely to be higher than around 0.5. Hence the fatality rate for TB may turn out to be many times, perhaps over 20 times higher than COVID-19, on the basis of the data available till now.

In Germany in the flu season of 2018 there were 25000 deaths from flu corresponding to 5 million cases (infections). In the case of COVID-19 in Germany till May 12 in over four months of this year there have been 7.7 thousand deaths. In order to reach 50 million in 15 weeks, in 2018 the flu cases had to double in 4.4 days, which is comparable to what has been happening recently for COVID 19. However, there were no lockdowns in 2018, no exceptionally high burden was reported. In a statement in mid-March the German Network for Evidence Based Medicine reported the case fatality rate for COVID 19 at 0.2 to be lower than that calculated for 2017-18 and 2018-19 flu by the Robert-Koch Institute (0.4-0.5).

Keeping in view these facts it is difficult to understand the prolonged lockdowns in a vast part of the world related to COVID-19. In fact, from the very beginning we can see high-level international efforts to blow up the COVID-10 episode beyond all proportion. When bewildered independent experts (over 20 top scientists, and still counting) tried to intervene and raised questions about the disproportionate response, immediately top persons placed in strategic positions issued exaggerated statements about COVID-19 threat to silence or counter these voices of reason.

The author is Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now and a public-interest journalist of long standing. His latest books are Vimla and Sunderlal Bahuguna—Chipko Movement and Struggle Against Tehri Dam and Earth Beyond Borders.

Back to Home Page

May 16, 2020

Bharat Dogra

Your Comment if any