By Ron Ross
A curious but fortunate characteristic of virus epidemics is their limited lifespans. No one knows why, but guesses include herd immunity and mutations of the virus.
The following graph from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics shows the time profile of the COVID-19 weekly death counts from February onward. (For an interactive version of the graph go here.)
In the U.S., the virus got underway in March. For the week ending March 14 the total number of deaths nationwide was 52. During the following month the number of deaths increased rapidly, peaking in the week ending April 18 at a count of 17,026.
From that time onward, the death count declined rapidly to a weekly number of 3,684 in late June. A second “wave” began in July. The peak of that second wave was 6,794 deaths during the week ending July 25. After that a steeper decline commenced and accelerated.
The peak death count for Americans under age 25 was 28 (for the week ending April 11) and has been under that number since. Only a single death occurred in that age group during the latest reported week, and there were no deaths recorded in the 25-34 age group.
Virus epidemics behave differently than virtually all other diseases. If you graphed timelines of the number of cancer deaths, fatal heart attacks, and fatal strokes, those timelines would be virtually flat.
Virus epidemics, however, have relatively short time profiles, like what we’re seeing with COVID-19. There’s nothing unusual about the fact that the coronavirus death count is dying a natural death. That should have been anticipated, and it should now be widely publicized. Why are we pretending not to know this good news? These facts are easy to find. We ought to be celebrating like we did when WWII ended.
This COVID-19 death profile is extremely significant yet is almost totally ignored by the media. Their focus is on cases, not deaths. The number of cases has not decreased as rapidly as the number of deaths. Only a small percentage of cases now ends in death, and the death count is vastly more important than the case count. The case count may linger, but that problem is becoming increasingly manageable.
The latest reported weekly death count (August 29) was 370. That’s out of a population of 330 million people. In a single week, between August 8 and August 15, the number of deaths dropped 85 percent (from 3,169 to 455). The COVID-19 death rate in the U.S. is now barely more than one per million and dropping like a rock. Coronavirus deaths are currently half the number of weekly vehicle fatalities. We’re now seeing the pandemic in our rearview mirror.
Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former professor of economics and author of The Unbeatable Market.