The Response to Covid-19 -- by the Numbers

In totality, the end result of COVID in terms of mortality was that, generally speaking, the oldest, fattest, sickest, least risk averse, 1 out of every 550 Americans would die before mass availability of vaccinations, at a median age of death on par with our average life expectancy. For those under 18, it was decidedly less deadly than the seasonal flu. For the ~85% of the population under 65 - and especially the ~66% under the age of 50 - there was extremely little risk...

Its about 10x more deadly than the flu for ages 20-50. Does this count as extremely little risk? I think its reasonable to argue either way just curious about your opinion.

I delved into this below, but I would firmly say "Yes". There were approximately 30,000 deaths from COVID in the United States among people younger than 50 years old. There are ~215,000,000 people in United States who are younger than 50 years old. The risk factor of catching and dying from COVID over the last year+ for this (very large) demographic (comprising ~2/3 of the country) was <0.014%, asymmetrically distributed by age, obesity, and comorbidities. That is to say, generally speaking, the fattest, oldest, least healthy, least conscientious, most unlucky 1out of every 7,143 people under 50 contracted and died with/from COVID. This does not strike me as anything resembling an emergency for the ~2/3 of the country we're referring to, and it would seem to pale in comparison to the economic, psychological, social, and physiological toll that was taken due to our hysterical and histrionic approach that treated everyone as if they were a decrepit octogenarian

For instance, overdose deaths alone are expected to have risen by 20,000 over 2020, possibly 30,000 over the course of the pandemic to date. 13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19. There have been massive surges in mental health symptoms, with the share of US adults with symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder up 400% during the pandemic. Nearly 10 million cancer screenings were missed during the pandemic and disruptions to non-COVID related healthcare will likely prove catastrophic. Further, 61% of Americans reported unwanted weight gain or loss during the pandemic, and of the 42% who gained weight they put on 29 pounds on average with 10% of this 42% (so 4.2% of Americans) gaining more than 50 pounds

For reference, ~40% of adults are obese, with 7.6% morbidly obese (BMI > 40) as of 2016. Obesity’s impact on life expectancy is thought to be between 5 and 20 years, worse for men than women. Meanwhile, 0.18% died from COVID, with an average age of 78. Say that the median COVID decedent lost 10 years (it’s almost certainly far less). Taking only the >50lb contingent and saying they lost 2 years (it’s likely more) on average, that alone would be ~5x the loss of life years of the entire pandemic so far. Pretty crazy to think about!

Then there's the losses regarding education, socialization, and wealth generation. We are just starting to explore how badly school closures disrupted our children's education, but the early studies look very ominous:

We use a natural experiment that occurred as national examinations in The Netherlands took place before and after lockdown to evaluate the impact of school closures on students’ learning. The Netherlands is interesting as a “best-case” scenario, with a short lockdown, equitable school funding, and world-leading rates of broadband access. Despite favorable conditions, we find that students made little or no progress while learning from home. Learning loss was most pronounced among students from disadvantaged homes.

Socialization, a fundamental human need, was badly hobbled over the last 15 months. This will be most pronounced for children and adolescents in crucial stages of development, but even young adults were robbed of their college experiences and new births - already in a concerning decline - have cratered during the pandemic. Likewise, marriages decreased precipitously while domestic violence rates have surged30307-7/fulltext). Dating became very difficult, and many people became trapped in bad or sub-optimal relationships. Missed holidays, birthdays, and graduations were routine, and a very large number of people were not able to visit loved ones before they died, leaving them permanently robbed of that closure

Finally, the economic cost is almost too large to contemplate. Just some napkin math, but my share of just federal stimulus bill spending based on my proportion of total tax revenues puts this at a personal cost to me of >$40,000. On top of that, my firm downsized as our clients' litigation was all put on hold and I lost my job, permanently altering my career path. Small businesses closed at an alarming rate, with estimates between 200,000 and 400,000 permanently shuttered above historical levels, and massive amounts of others bearing unheard of losses. Wealth inequality has soared to dramatic new heights and our government has spent countless trillions - that could've completely paid off universal child care, free college, and wiped out student loans for a generation - on frantic, impotent lockdowns that treated the entire country like they were the tiny sliver of the populace that was actually posed a meaningful risk by this pathogen

Recall, even in the *absolute worst case scenario* where basically everyone under 50 got COVID in a year - bc we're (ludicrously) crediting the lockdowns with preventing that - it comes out to ~ only 1 in 1,500 total deaths in <50 years olds, asymmetrically distributed among the oldest, fattest, and least healthy who were fully capable of taking any level of precautions they so chose. That is, to my mind, extremely little risk, and far more insignificant than what was lost, by probably a factor of at least 20x (presuming very modestly that lockdowns cost healthy young people ~1.5% of their lives, socially, economically, health-wise, etc.). COVID hysteria has been the most damaging phenomenon of our lifetimes by a country mile, and the fact that large swaths of the populace seem blinded to that is incredibly frustrating and alarming