Now the CDC is reporting, according to NBC, that American statistics reflect the European experience. Of course, the disease still skews old, but it takes in a large swath of people still in the prime of life. For example:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which, after studying more than 4,000 cases in the U.S., showed that about
40 percent of those hospitalized were ages 20 to 54.
Among the most critical cases, 12 percent of intensive care admissions were among those ages 20 to 44, while 36 percent were for those 45 to 64.
About 80 percent of people in the U.S. who have died from COVID-19 were 65 and over, with the highest percentage among those over 85.
So, nearly half of critical cases fell between the ages of 20 and 64. The worst outcome (death) was heavily among those over 65, but that's a lot of critical care patients in the two middle quartiles using up increasingly scarce healthcare resources.
The point is, the "simple" solution that has been appearing recently in opinion columns--quarantine people over 65 and allow the rest of the population to roam free--urns out after even a cursory examination of the data to be not so simple at all. In some very real sense the mortality or death rate gives a false impression. People who die no longer occupy an ICU bed. I'm going to bet that those who survive this disease after entering an ICU will have occupied space for far longer than those who died. That's the devilish thing about this pandemic--it 'attacks' our actual healthcare system as much as individuals. Attacks and overwhelms. Allowing people in the middle two quartiles to roam freely invites collapse of our healthcare system because hospitalization rates for Covid-19 are far, far higher than for seasonal flu. The more freely roaming people from the two middle quartiles who become infected, the more that rate will come back to haunt the entire healthcare system. This is what 'flattening the curve' is really about, far more than about the mortality rate alone.
Another problem with this concept of "returning to normal" and readily allowing widespread infection is the growing body of evidence that Covid-19 attacks body organs. In particular, there are signs that lung function can be permanently impaired by 20-30%--even after "full recovery." That is not an outcome that we should wish to lightly take for granted. Hopefully the specific medications like forms of chloroquine in combination with other medicine will offer a truly simpler strategy that avoids these complications.
Have I mentioned recently that THIS IS NOT THE FLU? It's time to stop pretending.
UPDATED: Don Surber links to a very informative article from the Irish Times that talks about Didier Raoult, The man who may stop COVID-19. Raoult is the scientist who came up with the blend of Chloroquine and Azythromycin that has shown such promising early results. Surber ends with this:
Be cautious, but hopeful.
French health minister Olivier Véran said, "The history of viral disease is strewn with false good news, disappointments and reckless risks."
Medicine.Net cited Raoult's test and said, "This follows encouraging in vitro results obtained by a Chinese team led by Xueting Yao, from Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China, which were published online by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on March 9th. However, the data were deemed insufficient by the infection community to recommend the compound as a treatment.
"Moreover, chloroquine is not listed among the four treatments studied as part of the recently launched European clinical trial piloted by Inserm, which includes 3200 severe hospitalized patients, including 800 French patients.
"Chloroquine was ruled out due to the risk of interactions with other medications for common comorbidities in infected patients, and because of possible adverse effects in patients undergoing resuscitation."
IOW, Chloroquine may not be for everyone. No simple solution. But it could yet be a significant factor.