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Placing Morbidity and Mortality In Perspective

Yesterday I was at Giant and CVS picking up some items and I found the toilet paper aisle pretty barren and bleach was sold out.  The CVS pharmacists were wearing masks and a big sign on the counter stated:  “WE ARE SOLD OUT OF MASKS”.  While watching the news yesterday I saw that Dow futures indicated another 1000 points drop for Monday.

Clearly, the Covid-19 (Corona) virus epidemic is scaring the living s—t out of pretty much everyone.  I am being asked daily by my medical patients about how concerned I am about the epidemic.  I am not a by any means an infectious disease specialist but I have certainly seen my share of “virus epidemics” over my 39 years of practicing medicine.

Here are some numbers so we can place this into a bit of a perspective:  Each year the influenza virus infects 9 million-45 million Americans and kills 12,000-61000 Americans. Covid-19 has infected thus far 500 Americans and killed 22 (as of March 9).   During the flu epidemic yearly, I do not see any shortages of toilet paper and the pharmacists have plenty of masks to sell, and they, themselves, are not wearing masks.

Oh, by the way, here are some other numbers to help place the Covid-19 virus into perspective.

The U.S. population: 327 million.   

The overweight rate: 70%

The amount of people overweight or obese: Over 210 million

The amount of deaths yearly in the U.S due to co-morbidities of poor weight control: GREATER THAN 400,000

Please do not take this entry as a trivialization of the Covid-19 epidemic.  There are many elderly and immune compromised people that will suffer from this.  However, placing the facts into perspective, our nation’s obesity epidemic will kill many times over the amount of people that the virus will.  There is not nearly as much sensationalism that occurs with the obesity epidemic so the stock market stays vibrant, CVS pharmacists do not scare the living s—t out of their customers and there is plenty of toilet paper available.   But the true big time maimer/killer to our people is our collective weight control problem.  Let’s all do something major about this.

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