This letter is not intended to ignore the impact and consequences of COVID-19, nor should it be considered personal medical advice. It’s written to provide you with some balance and information that isn’t highlighted or even mentioned by much of the media.
In recent weeks, the number of cases in many states, including Arizona, has increased, and this has been widely publicized. Some other aspects of the coronavirus outbreak have received less attention.
As I write this on July 9, the death rate has decreased substantially for several weeks nationwide, as shown at worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ (scroll to “Daily New Deaths in the US.”) and in Arizona (azdhs.gov; click on “Data Dashboard,” then “COVID-19 Deaths.”).
This is not at all meant to minimize the significance of loss of life, but rather to illustrate the evident decline in the overall severity of infection.
Testing is expanding and current data shows that many newly diagnosed cases are in younger individuals. Speculation abounds as to the reasons for this, and blame often follows, but it’s generally accepted that younger people are much less likely to develop serious illness or die from coronavirus infection.
Also largely ignored is any useful explanation of the concept of herd immunity, the mechanism by which populations generally overcome viral epidemics and pandemics. Here’s a brief lesson from “Virology 101.” As more people become infected, survive and produce protective antibodies, the harder it becomes for infection to spread to susceptible individuals. Thus, more cases in younger individuals who recover would be expected to actually accelerate the development of herd immunity and protect more vulnerable individuals. So, more cases may actually be beneficial to the population at large.
Much has been learned; more is yet to be learned. Rational assessment and application of knowledge as well personal responsibility will lead us through this challenge.