Some Coronastatistics

At the time of writing, the number of deaths in UK as a result of Covid-19 since records began is six. Interestingly, that’s about the same as the number of people who died on UK roads…. yesterday. (The number who sustained serious injuries yesterday is about 11 times as high.)

Now, I don’t want to minimise the virus threat, and I do understand that one of those numbers is likely to increase exponentially while the other isn’t, etc. So I’m also taking appropriate precautions like everyone else. But it also explains why I’m happy to go out to a restaurant for dinner tonight… even a Chinese restaurant! If we manage to survive the journey there and back, any sources of contagion we might encounter in a busy restaurant should be child’s play in comparison.

Ironically, Italy, which is suffering a much more serious viral issue than we are, also has one of the highest rates of road fatalities in Europe. Their death rate from the virus has now reached 631, which is about twice as many as road deaths — even at Italian rates — in the same period. We are still a very long way from that here, for the time being, at least. There’s something to be said for living on an island.

For UK readers, though, I think this is an interesting metric to watch, though, to keep a rational sense of the scale of the problem: How long will it be before letting your kids go to a sporting event at school is actually more dangerous than driving them there and back?

**Update: see the next day’s post. **

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I really think you should read this:

We are ~2 weeks behind Italy. They have over 10,000 cases, and about 5,000 have required hospitalisation, with about 10% in intensive care. Their hospitals are overwhelmed. Doctors are having to prioritise who gets to have an ECMO machine, and who does (read: dies). Apparently 40% of those in hospital are under 64, so it’s not just the elderly who are affected. My parents are in their mid 70s. I know quite a lot of older folk. Even with a mortality rate of 1%, it could be really bad. Seasonal flu kills on average about 17k people in the UK per year. This sounds a lot worse.

On the other hand, I understand that closing schools and telling everyone to self-isolate too early might just cause people to go stir-crazy after 2 weeks and then breaking rules. I’m ready to work from home, and expect that next week I will be doing so. But in reality, it’s my 5 children that are likely to be the vector that bring COVID-19 to me, as they’re super-spreaders (all children are).

I’m trying not to be too alarmed, but my wife is a rational doctor, and she is quite worried, as are many doctors. We are still months away from a vaccine. UV light degrades RNA quickly, so the spring/summer will help. However, the stats from Italy are really quite grim.

P.S. The UK has ~50 ECMO machines. During the swine flu outbreak, they were all in use, and the nearest one was in Belgium.

When I’m in hospital on an ECMO, I’ll be wishing I bought more pasta.

Thanks Jonathan – that’s a great article.

I’ll do a follow-up post.

Quentin you missed the point here by a country mile! The reason you have been asked not to go to a restaurant is not to protect you and your family but to slow down the spread of the virus. Mortality rates in healthy under 70s is probably under 1% but that still means that on average in a group of 1,000 people several people will die. Fatalities from RTAs is less than 6 per billion miles travels. So you are already exponentially more likely to die if you catch the virus then you are from an RTA. The CMO has estimated that 80% of the UK population will get the virus and unless we slow it down over 250,000 will die. Don’t be selfish! Forego a night out and help society.

Steve –

Yes, you’re quite right, but do note that I posted this nearly a week ago! The advice (and the risk to everyone) has changed significantly since then and I wouldn’t, of course, go out now.


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