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COVID-19 Is Now the Deadliest Pandemic in American History

Many people somehow think that COVID-19 is just another flu virus and not that bad. Wrong! The deadly flu epidemic of 1918 killed an estimated 675,000 persons in the United States. But COVID-19 has already killed more than 690,000 persons - and these are the confirmed cases! It is now officially the deadliest disease event or pandemic in American history.

Currently more than 1900 persons are still dying daily in the United States - so the numbers are increasing rapidly.

It is thought that actual numbers of deaths are at least 10% higher (e.g., a person dies at home from the virus, but had never taken COVID-19 test when alive). Johns Hopkins University updates case and death numbers daily (see COVID-19 Dashboard), for both the US and the rest of the world.

Very soon the official number of deaths from COVID-19 will surpass 700,000! In just two short years! Some comparisons of events causing large numbers of deaths are: the death toll for Americans in the War Between the States (Civil War) was about 650,000, and about 405,000 for World War II. The HIV/AIDS virus has killed at least 700,000 people since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1960s - but this is over the course of 60 years.

Excerpts from Stat News: Covid-19 overtakes 1918 Spanish flu as deadliest disease in American history

The Covid-19 pandemic has become the deadliest disease event in American history, with a death toll surpassing that of the 1918 Spanish flu.

The Spanish flu was previously the disease event that caused the biggest loss of life in the United States; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 675,000 Americans died during the 1918 pandemic, in waves of illness that stretched out over roughly two years in this country.

According to STAT’s Covid-19 Tracker, Covid deaths stand at more than 675,400.

U.S. deaths make up roughly 14% of the nearly 4.7 million fatalities that have been reported worldwide in this pandemic to date, even though the country’s population comprises only about 4.2% of the global population.

Whether the Covid pandemic will qualify as the deadliest event in U.S. history is perhaps a question for Civil War historians. The long-accepted toll of the War Between the States was 620,000, which this pandemic has already surpassed. But in 2011, David Hacker, a historian at Binghamton University in New York State, published an article in the journal Civil War History arguing the true number of deaths in the Civil War was more likely around 750,000.

The heavy toll the pandemic has taken in the U.S. is due to the country’s inadequate response early on, said Markel. David Morens, a medical historian at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed.

Likewise, the mean age of the people who died in 1918 was 28, whereas with Covid, deaths are occurring mainly in the elderly, said Viboud, who works at the National Institutes of Health’s Fogerty International Center. In terms of cumulative years of life lost, the Spanish flu’s impact thus remains greater.

But modern medicine is far more advanced than what was available in 1918. Now people whose lungs are under attack from Covid can be put on ventilators or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation — ECMO — machines, which pump oxygen into blood when a person’s heart and lungs are no longer up to the job. These were not options in 1918.

And for months now, the country has had vaccines that are highly effective at lowering the risk of dying from Covid. Still the fatalities pile up, though at a slower rate than earlier in the pandemic.

The global Covid death figure is without doubt an underestimate, but then again, the American tally likely is as well.

There is some work that suggests what a truer figure might be, Viboud said, pointing to a research paper published in the journal eLife in June.

The study, by Ariel Karlinsky, an economist and statistician at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Dmitry Kobak, of the Institute for Ophthalmic Research at the University of Tübingen in Germany, actually attempted to estimate a more accurate picture of Covid deaths in 103 countries. Their calculations were based on looking at what is known as excess mortality, the differences between the number of deaths reported since the start of the pandemic and the annual average mortality figures for the years 2015 through 2019 in each of the countries studied.

Their work estimated that the true Covid death toll in the United States is probably 10% higher than the declared number of lives lost to the disease in the country. That would place the Covid deaths in America in the ballpark of 741,000.

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