|adj.||Epidemic over a wide geographic area and affecting a large proportion of the population.|
|n.||A pandemic disease.|
The definition above is a simple result of doing a search on my favorite engine (duck-duck-go). I think most folks having any idea would agree that the definition given is relatively accurate.
That’s important, because I’m about to use it in order to do some quick clarifying, regarding the use of the word as a call to action.
If you were to visit the Center For Disease Control’s page on COVID-19 infection rates, you would see that it is indeed relatively reasonable to refer to effect of the virus in question in terms of infection as pandemic in nature.
The problem is, if one considers the CDC data for influenza in the 2019-2020 ‘flu season, it too would be considered pandemic in nature. How do the numbers compare? Per the CDC, to this point, we have had nearly 4,000,000 (roughly three million, eight hundred thousand) COVID-19 cases in the U.S. in total. That sounds pretty bad until you realize that just in the 2019-2020 ‘flu season, there were a reported 13,000,000 (thirteen million) cases of influenza.
So at least where the United States is concerned, which is the greater “pandemic?” Far and away common influenza wins that prize.
I would imagine—though I haven’t researched to confirm this that the common cold typically reaches “pandemic levels” on a yearly basis as well.
In fact, I would be somewhat surprised to find there were not a series of such conditions that did likewise.
Please understand, I’m not trying to cause panic. What I am doing, in fact, is trying to get people to understand that the use of the word “pandemic” is intended to evoke a particular reaction among the U.S. populace at large. That word like its predecessor, epidemic, is designed to strike fear in the heart of the average Joe or Jane.
The question though is, “Should it?” My answer is a pretty simple and—I think, at least—fairly logical, “No.” What should make the concept of an epidemic or a pandemic scary, ought to be the effects of contracting the condition that results from that outbreak.
In other words, the amount of time people are ill, the severity of the illness and the level of potential for mortality (death rate) are just as significant as the fact that something can be considered pandemic in nature, if not more so.
This—if anything—is what makes COVID-19 “scary” to so many folks. They look at the number of occurrences, they look at the number of deaths, and they become alarmed.
There are some problems with looking at the data as it’s commonly presented.
The first is, according to many sources I’ve seen reporting, COVID-19 is often asymptomatic. That is, people contracting the virus have no idea they’re infected. I can’t answer what percentage of folks “present” in that way; and I much doubt anyone else can either. Why? Because when a person has no (or next to no) symptoms of illness, they’re entirely unlikely to seek any kind of medical aid.
The result is, the only way they will know they’re sick, is if they’re identified through some sort of testing unrelated to contracting COVID-19.
The next issue is that for at least some of the COVID-19 antibody tests, they don’t pick up antibodies for just COVID-19, but any type of Coronavirus. Since it appears that other mutations of the Coronavirus are what cause ubiquitous illnesses (I have heard, for example that at least one strain of the common cold is a mutation of the Coronavirus), that means people could potentially be identified as “COVID-19 victims,” when they never had that particular strain.
The result of all of this, is that antibody testing for COVID-19 is dodgy at best.
Whether or not those numbers are accurate (and I should tell you, I’ve heard anecdotal accounts that bring the current testing into question even if the tests strictly identify only COVID-19), is really somewhat beside the point.
Let me give you an example as to why.
Anyone who’s been watching the news, is aware that the number of folks who’ve been identified as being infected with COVID-19 seems to be rising.
I maintain that a part of that rise can be attributed to an increase in testing, but even so, let’s assume that the infection rate is actually on the increase.
That having been said, where I haven’t done the research on sickness and recovery, I have done a small amount of research on mortality.
The long and short of things is this. Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while the supposed infections have been increasing the number of deaths have been steadily decreasing. How long have they been on the down side? You may be surprised to hear that (again, per the CDC), they’ve been falling since the week of April 18th ,2020.
To be clear, that week, there were 16,943 (sixteen thousand nine hundred and forty three) deaths that were attributed to COVID-19. Week-over-week though, the number have deaths has fallen, regardless of the infection rate.
The last “good week” (the subsequent week will almost certainly be adjusted upwards, as has been the trend), was July 11th, 2020. The number of people dying of the disease? 2097 (two thousand and ninety seven). This is an eighth of the peak week back in April.
In all of this, I have intentionally neglected the statistical data surrounding who will most likely be significantly affected by the virus. Factoring that data into the mix makes this disease even less serious for the majority of U.S. residents.
“PANDEMIC!” It sounds so scary, but in reality, the danger presented by a pandemic cannot be measured by looking strictly at the numbers of affected individuals. Rather, you must consider the results. Are people being badly affected? How, and to what extent?
Where I’m not saying COVID-19 has had (or will have) no effect. I am saying that, at present, the outcomes from infection—if the current contraction and mortality numbers are to be believed are looking better every day.
Is it possible we could see a resurgence in terms of effect? Certainly! Do I count that likely, based on present numbers? Not so much.
Thanks for reading and may your time be good.