Was the COVID risk overblown?

I have seen people claim that COVID wasn’t any worse than the flu, and that the toll from the disease was smaller than the number of people killed in traffic accidents each year.

Is that correct? Sources of data on deaths from all kinds of causes are easy to find. I will limit myself to the US.

Let’s see:

Today’s WorldOMeter says the US has had 666,627 deaths since the start of this pandemic, starting almost exactly 18 months ago (mid-March of 2020 to 9/7/2021).

That number of deaths, divided by 18 months, works out to a monthly death toll from COVID of about 37,000 per month.

Flu, however, takes roughly a full year to kill that many.

If we multiply the 37 thousand by 12 months, you get 444,000 killed by COVID in a year.

Flu’s Toll over the Past Decade

The CDC says that up to but not including the pandemic, influenza has inflicted, per year:

between 9 million and 45 million illnesses

between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitalizations

between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths (so by WorldOMeter’s numbers, COVID has been between 6 and 37 times more deadly)

Traffic deaths

For automobiles, the annual death rate had been about 36,000 people killed per year (up until 2019, and not including any pandemic months)

So COVID is more deadly than traffic accidents of all sorts by a factor of about 12 to one if we use WorldOMeter’s data.

Covid’s Toll

Now let’s compare those figures with the ones from COVID. I think you will see that COVID has been in fact much more dangerous.

Over the past 18 months, the CDC (as opposed to WorldOMeter) says we have had:

120.2 Million Estimated Total Infections (this includes both those who did NOT have any symptoms, as well as those who DID; this can’t really be compared to the figures for the flu)

101.8 Million Estimated Symptomatic Illnesses (since this is more than a year, to be fair, we should adjust by a factor equal to the ratio of 12 months to 18 months, or 2/3. Doing so, I get about 67 million symptomatic COVID infections per year, which is between 2 to 6 times larger than for the flu!)

6.2 Million Estimated Hospitalizations (adjusting as before, this is like 4 million hospitalizations per year, which is between 5 and 29 times worse than the flu)

767,000 Estimated Total Deaths (this is like 511,000 deaths per year – between 8 and 43 times worse than the flu!)

So, those arguments are full of nonsense, to put it politely.

The risk was NOT overblown.

I wish everybody in the US and abroad was permitted to take the vaccine, and did so!

I want this to be over.

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My sources were:

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/#graph-deaths-daily for WorldOMeter’s estimates

Published in: on September 7, 2021 at 12:30 pm  Comments (2)
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Charter schools do NOT get better NAEP test results than regular public schools

It is not easy to find comparisons between charter schools and regular public schools, partly because the charter schools are not required to be nearly as transparent or accountable as regular public schools. (Not in their finances, nor in requests for public records, nor for student or teacher disciplinary data, and much more.) At the state or district level, it has in the past been hard or impossible to find comparative data on the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress).

We all have heard the propaganda that charter and voucher schools are so much better than regular public schools, because they supposedly get superior test scores and aren’t under the thumb of  those imaginary ‘teacher union thugs’.

However, NCES has released results where they actually do this comparison. Guess what: there is next to no difference between the scores of all US charter schools on the NAEP in both reading and math at either the 4th grade or 8th grade level! In fact, at the 12th grade, regular public schools seem to outscore the charter schools by a significant margin.

Take a look at the two graphs below, which I copied and pasted from the NCES website. The only change I made was to paint orange for the bar representing the charter schools. Note that there is no data available for private schools as a whole.

If you aren’t good at reading graphs, the one above says that on a 500-point scale, in 2017 (which was the last year for which we have results), at the 4th grade, regular public school students scored an average of 239 points in math, three points higher than charter school students (probably not a significant difference). At the 8th grade level, the two groups scored identically: 282 points. At the 12th grade, in 2015, regular public school students outscored charter school students by a score of 150 to 133 on a 300-point scale (I suspect that difference IS statistically significant). We have no results from private schools, but Catholic schools do have higher scores than the public or charter schools.

The next graph is for reading. At the 4th grade, charter school students in 2017 outscored regular public school students by a totally-insignificant 1 point (222 to 221 on a 500 point scale) and the same thing happened at the 8th grade level (266 to 265 on a 500 point scale). However, at the 12th grade, the regular public school students outscore their charter school counterparts by a score of 285 to 269, which I bet is significant.