Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself (2)

A Brazilian friend has been in a voluntary coronavirus lockdown for almost 5 months. She is afraid. Brazil has nearly 60,000 deaths. That is a fatality rate of 0.028% on a population of almost 210 million – or 28 in 100,000 people. The Spanish flu of 1918 had a fatality rate of some 4.5% – or 1 in 22 people. How does the Brazilian fatality rate compare to others?

Thus far, Brazil’s fatality rate of 0.028% is still lower than other countries that applied social distancing measures without a mandatory lockdown. For instance, the Netherlands and Sweden both have a coronavirus fatality rate of some 0.05% – or 1 in 2,000 people. Hence, Brazil’s fatality rate is (still) lower than other countries, like the Netherlands, Sweden or USA.

In 1950, the average historical fatality rate per 1000 persons was much higher in Brazil (16) than Netherlands (7.5) or Sweden (9.75). Early 2020, Brazil had fewer (6.6) deaths than Netherlands (8.9) or Sweden (9.1) per 1000 people (source). The current impact on those mortality averages adds 0.28 (BRA) and 0.5 (NL+SWE), and hardly affects global mortality ratings.

Today, USA already outranks Brazil with 130,390 corona deaths or 0.0395% of its population of almost 330 million people, excluding an already high US annual death rate (8.9). In my blog of 14 May 2020, I have assumed that the US coronavirus fatality rate of almost 0.04% will increase to 0.07% – or 330,000 US deaths. So far, reality supports my grim view.

Notwithstanding the above, I keep on wondering why people continue viewing the coronavirus fatality rate as a (serious) pandemic? The coronavirus fatality rate of 0.05% (NL+SWE), or 0.028% (BRA) or (almost) 0.04% (USA) is extremely small compared to the 4.5% fatality rate (ie, 1 in 22 people) of the Spanish flu of 1918 (eg, my 14 May 2020 blog).

The title of my 28 May 2020 blog was: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I think, feel and believe that this title is the answer why people continue to view the coronavirus as a (serious) pandemic. Fear – and fear-based opinions – have taken over from facts.

Moreover, we forgot about the historical danger of (highly contagious) infectious diseases following their low probability and long recurrence interval (eg, HFD). In general, we fail to grasp statistical events having a low probability and a high impact. The coronavirus is certainly not a black swan event, or an “unpredictable, rare, catastrophic event” (New Yorker-2020).

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” A quote by Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968).

Fear (1985) by Sade

artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Can she tame the beast that is her fear?

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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