Steve Blank The Covid-19 virus is not politically correct


The Covid-19 virus is not politically correct. He discriminates against the old and the unhealthy. The biggest risk factor for dying from the virus is age. If you are 60 to 70 years old, you have 30 times more likely pass away Covid-19 only if you are under 40 years of age. And if you are over 80, you are 180 times more likely. It is not that young people do not get sick or die, but the chances are radically different.

In the early days of the virus, epidemiologists, who believed that the virus would also kill young and old, predicting a million or more deaths in the United States, wanted everyone to take shelter. The result has crushed our economy. Meanwhile, economists view 15% unemployment as an unacceptable and unsustainable cost to protect everyone and wish the economy to reopen quickly, accepting that some additional deaths are inevitable.

They may both be lacking in evidence. We have created an equality of opportunity recession when in fact, the pandemic is not at all equal.

Yes demographic data is correct, it may be possible to significantly reduce cases and deaths if we are hosting the most at risk and pay them to stay in the shelter until a vaccine is available. This would allow those with a considerably lower risk to return to work and bring about a faster economic recovery.

Here's how.


We have spent the past 50 years working do not discriminate based on age or disability, so it's hard to recognize what, if these numbers are correct, or even in the rough stage, data suggest that people over 60 are 30 to 180 times more likely to die from Covid-19. And about 1/3 of these deaths in the United States occurred in nursing homes.

Age-related mortality rate
18 <40 0.07%
40 <50 0.31%
50 <60 1.00 (reference)
60 <70 2.09
70 <80 4.77
80+ 12.64

Chronic health conditions are exacerbated by chronic health problems (i.e., heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma and other respiratory diseases, asthma). obesity and diabetes.) In addition, racial and ethnic minorities appear to have been at greater risk.

A good visualization of mortality rates by age is below. It takes data from South Korea, Spain, Italy and China. Age-specific relative death rates in the United States seem to follow them.

For COVID-19, the data suggest that 80% or more of the infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are serious infections, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical, requiring ventilation. If you are under 40, the data shows that you are five times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the seasonal flu.

Today, the federal and state governments plan to reopen the economy by focusing on reducing the density and duration of exposure to the virus. also, at all ages. But little emphasis has been placed on concentrating resources to ensure the safety of people who fall ill and die.

We got it back – Protect the old against everyone
The consequences of mixing the young, largely asymptomatic and much lower risk, with the elderly who are at considerably higher risk appear to be a deadly game of whack-a-mole.

As states relax restrictions on on-site shelters, the mix of young and old when restaurants reopen, live entertainment (theaters, concerts, gyms), crowded office buildings, etc. guarantee unnecessary deaths.

20% of people over 60 work. 12.5% ​​of the workforce is over 60
And if we recognize that the virus (like the flu) discriminates against the elderly. As a thought experiment, how could we design a recovery that protected the old but minimal restriction of our economy and rapid return to normal? Here are some ideas.

  • Continue to house adults over the age of 60 (or another age whose data indicate the highest risk) on site, as well as those with chronic health risks as well as other affected populations
  • Open the economy to everyone
  • Offer to anyone over the age of 60 (and people with chronic health conditions) may be remotely makes it possible to work from home. Pay for your computer, network, etc. Offer your employer an incentive to compensate for lost productivity – until a vaccine is available
  • Provide to Americans over 60 and those with chronic health conditions it is not possible done remotely with a "personal pay protection program" – pay so they don't show up for work – until a vaccine is available.
  • Focus our rare testing tools on nursing homes and their employees and front-line medical workers, next to everyone over the age of 60, then those whose illness puts them at risk, then to the general population
  • Provide comprehensive health care to this protected population
  • Provide resources (in dollars for separate accommodation via empty hotel / airbnb rooms, etc.) to protect the elderly who live in multi-generational housing
  • If possible, continue to wear masks and move away to reduce the risk for those under 60
  • Spread the comparative risk of getting sick / dying from Covid-19 to the typical risks we lived with before the pandemic. This would allow everyone to make comparative and informed decisions.
    • For example, car accidents ~ 39,000 deaths in 2019 and more than three-quarters of a million deaths since 2000, ~ 70,000 deaths from drug overdoses in 2019 and more than three-quarters of a million dead since 2000. All of this is preventable, but as a society, we have decided that we are not shutting down our economy to solve these problems.
    • Understanding deaths from seasonal flu in 2018/2019 ~ 34,000 deaths (~ 25,000 deaths> 65, ~ 8,000 <65) provides a reference to the current forecast of 150,000 deaths from Covid-19 this year (5 times the risk of dying with seasonal flu.) Just at the Covid-19 scale, deaths are closer to 100,000 died in the 1968 flu pandemic and 116,000 died in 1957/58. We made various decisions during these pandemics. We may want to think about the reason.
  • Remove all trade restrictions for workers and customers under a certain age. Like a thought experience, imagine the restaurants serving only those under 40 (carding at the door). They would have no requirement for distancing. Or that companies assess themselves based on the age of their antivirus security. Imagine movie theaters with special distancing sessions for those over 60, nightclubs for those under 30 or over 60. Ditto for places of sport and entertainment. Those who attend will understand that the risks are not zero, but within the reach of those with whom they live today. Same thing with the offices.
  • Create special times and places (shops, restaurants, workplaces, etc.) for those who need shelter. Offer companies that respond to them great financial incentives.
  • Create special public transport options with more than 60 metro cars, buses, etc.

It would do six things:

  1. We would protect the most vulnerable population at risk
  2. With more than 60 people housed, jobs are now open to young unemployed people
  3. Businesses can return to normal without incurring significant additional overheads
  4. Businesses Can Generate Additional Income For Those Who Stay At Home
  5. Potential burden on the health system would be reduced by removing vulnerable people from risk
  6. And this plan would significantly reduce the overall economic cost of housing and speed up the recovery

We have spent the past 50 years fighting age discrimination, but the virus is the ultimate discriminator against the elderly. It is uneven and unfair. But it exists. Let's look for ways to go beyond the choice between skyrocketing death rates and economic disaster by recognizing what the data shows. Make a plan to protect the most vulnerable and let everyone get back to work.

Note: the author is over 65 and is willing to respect these restrictions

Lessons learned

  • We must reflect on the different ways of protecting the most vulnerable and restoring our economy
  • We have to put the risks in context with the other risks that we have taken and accepted as a society in relation to the damage that unemployment of 15% would cause.

Filed under: Covid-19 / Recovery |