Perspective Update: Covid-19 vs. Spanish Flu After Two Years

I know we have been down this path before. But just as I like to return, every so often, to my point about the tyrannical nature and results of government-controlled education, in spite of having already explained the matter exhaustively years ago (to no effect whatsoever, naturally), so I find myself compelled, periodically, to revisit the issue of proportionality with regard to the unprecedented dire emergency of Covid-19. So, for no reason at all beyond the simple but considerable pleasure of observing that my brain is still able to function outside of the machine, here goes.

Our current pandemic is approaching the two-year mark now. The 1918 flu pandemic, popularly dubbed the Spanish Flu, is typically recorded as covering approximately the same amount of time, from about February 1918 to about April 1920. Here is how they compare, in the simplest and most conservative terms.

Today’s global population is just over eight billion, whereas during the Spanish Flu pandemic it was under two billion, less than one quarter of today’s.

As of this writing, the mainstream and most extreme estimate on the number of Covid-19 deaths worldwide is 5.24 million. The lowest credible estimate on the total number of Spanish Flu deaths after two years is 17.4 million; other, more mainstream estimates run from 25 to 50 million. In other words, as of the two-year mark in both outbreaks, the death toll from the Spanish Flu is at least 3.32 times greater than the toll from Covid-19, and perhaps as much as 9.5 times greater. 

Taken as a percentage of the relative global populations, however, Covid-19 has killed .07% (rounded up) of the current population of 8 billion. The Spanish Flu, startlingly, killed at least .87% of the population (on the 17.4 million deaths estimate), and as much as 2.5% (50 million deaths estimate).

To state that last comparison more directly: After approximately two years, Spanish flu was at least 12.4 times more deadly than Covid-19 relative to the global population of its time, and possibly as much as 35.7 times more deadly.

And as alarmingly stark as those differences must appear — and thus as relatively puny as the current pandemic must appear in contrast to the truly terrible Spanish Flu — we should not neglect to add in certain factors that seem highly relevant to the comparison we are making.

First of all, since a highly contagious illness will spread more readily through densely populated areas, it is notable that 56% of today’s world population lives in urban areas, compared to less than 30% in 1918. In raw numbers, then, today’s city-dwellers number nearly 4.5 billion, whereas in 1918 the number was below 600,000. One would think a pandemic of Spanish Flu proportions could truly decimate a world such as ours, in which billions of people live in large cities, and of course so many millions of those in apartment buildings with hundreds or thousands of residents. This fact shows our current pandemic to be even weaker compared to Spanish Flu than is shown from the bare death-by-population numbers cited above.

In addition, today’s population is proportionately much older than that of 1918, which is a particularly significant factor in light of the indisputable fact that Covid-19 takes the vast majority of its victims from among people over age 60, and especially over 70. Put this reality of an aging population relative to 1918 together with the well-documented tendency of Spanish Flu to take a startling percentage of its victims from among the young and vigorous portions of the population, especially men in their twenties and thirties (whereas Covid-19 exacts almost no toll among the young and healthy), and again, the sheer mathematical enormity of the difference in seriousness between the two outbreaks becomes even more enormous.

Or we could just ignore all that perspective, take the nonsensical rhetorical bait of “No death is acceptable” — as though death-avoidance as such could ever be a rational human goal, let alone one to be pursued at the price of every other human goal — and subject ourselves to extremes of intractable and precedent-setting authoritarian powers in the name of allegedly saving lives, without even so much as asking for hard evidence that these newly-minted dictatorial powers, i.e., our own permanent enslavements, have actually saved any lives.

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