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Which of these two men did Covid kill?


LET me tell you the stories of Alan and Brian, both of whom died in this ‘Covid era’. 

Alan was a friend of mine. Full of life and energy, an inspiring colleague, he was loved by his wife and four young children. After suffering internal problems he was referred to hospital by his GP and given an appointment in March. Then, just before the date, his appointment was cancelled. Like every normal middle-aged man he put up with it until the symptoms worsened markedly in July, at which point he was admitted as an emergency patient. After examination he was told that his hepatitis was too far advanced for any treatment and was given palliative care until he died at the age of 54 in September. 

Brian was completely different. He’d had dementia for two years and was dying from that and a longer-term cancer. When the end came, he happened to have Covid as well, something that may have hastened his death, but only marginally. He was 92 years old. 

Which of these men died of Covid-19? 

Brian goes down as a Covid death, despite the virus having a comparatively minor effect, but Alan, whose death was a direct consequence of the way we have dealt with Covid, doesn’t feature in the virus death statistics. 

What’s more, these two deaths are very different in significance. One was in his vital middle years, with on average 30 years ahead of him; the other was at the end of his life, with only a short time to live. 

As soon as we consider Alan and Brian, we see that the mortality statistics currently provided by the government are totally inadequate for giving any sense of what is really happening with Covid deaths.

The media wish to catch our attention. Understandably they will leap on the case of a 25-year-old who succumbs to Covid. But is such a case typical? What really is the pattern of the statistics? To give us an idea, here are the statistics for deaths during the first wave of Covid, between March and June 2020.

Take a look. The tiny blue areas are the numbers of deaths of those with no pre-existing conditions. If you have no pre-existing conditions, even in your seventies and eighties, the chance of dying from Covid is remarkably small. Only if you have pre-existing conditions is your risk significant. 

If you are in good health, as many a 90-year-old knows having come safely through Covid, the risk of dying is very low – unless like Alan, like Barbara, like Carol, like other friends of mine, you are being denied treatment because of a zealous reaction to Covid. And, if that over-reaction does finish you off, you won’t even appear in the covid statistics. 

Why, you may ask, is my graph based on statistics which are over six months old? The shocking fact is that, despite the bombardment we face of death statistics, the government is only ‘currently working’ on updating these figures; they ‘don’t have a definitive release date’ yet. 

In this information age, the absence of statistics about something usually indicates only one thing – the powers that be have decided that it’s best we don’t think about such things. 

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Mark Ellse
Mark Ellse
Mark Ellse is a physicist and author. He is a former headmaster, independent school inspector and A level chief examiner.

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