Age-Adjusted Mortality Is at 2004 Levels. Yet They Tell Us Covid Is Worse Than the 1918 Flu.
Last week, the media again tried to ratchet up the public’s fear over covid-19 by labeling it more deadly than the 1918 flu epidemic. “COVID-19 Is Now the Deadliest Disease in U.S. History,” reads one headline from an NBC TV affiliate. Considering the realities of cancer and heart disease, that headline is absurdly false. Perhaps the author meant “communicable disease.” A TIME headline was at least arguably factual, declaring, “COVID-19 Is Now the Deadliest Pandemic in American History.”
But even the TIME headline is only arguably true if stripped of all context. If we actually look at disease mortality proportionally to the population, the 1918 epidemic was far worse than covid. Considering that the US population in 1918 was one-third its current size, we find that deaths per million from the flu epidemic totaled about sixty-five hundred per million. Covid, by comparison currently comes in—in the official numbers—around twenty-two hundred per million.
But this is all part of a larger pattern—one well embraced by the media—of presenting information with as little context as possible. One such example was the reporting on suicide rates in 2018, which ignored everything but the most recent trend.
A current example—and one very much related to the attempts to compare covid to the 1918 flu—is the failure to look at covid mortality—and mortality in general—in light of an aging population.
Rising Mortality and an Aging Population
After all, the fact that the American population is rapidly aging is going to increase total mortality over time. We see that in the total mortality data over the past twenty years. For example, from 2001 to 2020, total deaths increased in every year but four. It’s unlikely this was because the United States was becoming a more deadly place to live for children or the middle aged. Rather, over that time, the US population became increasingly elderly—and also larger in general—and more people were dying.
This trend appears to have accelerated after 2011, with total annual deaths increasing by 33 percent. Moreover, even if we create a death rate and thus account for increases in total population size, we still find that the death rate has increased in every single year since 2009. Again, we have
Article from Mises Wire