Infectious Diseases

How Does the Threat of COVID-19 Compare with ‘Normal’ Risk?

Posted on 2 April 2020

In this eye-opening article Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the university of Cambridge, weighs up the risk of death from COVID-19 against the ‘normal’ risk of death that people face every year.

‘Normal’ mortality vs mortality with COVID-19. Note that the y-axis is not linear.

Professor Spiegelhalter reminds us that 600 000 people die every year in the UK, compared with Imperial College’s estimate of 510 000 COVID-19 excess deaths if the virus went completely unchallenged.

So, roughly speaking, we might say that getting COVID-19 is like packing a year’s worth of risk into a week or two. Which is why it’s important to spread out the infections to avoid the NHS being overwhelmed.

Sir David John Spiegelhalter

He adds that the figures quoted represent the average risk across the population, not the average person’s risk: for people without chronic underlying conditions, the risk of dying from both COVID-19 and other causes is much lower.

The article is very much worth reading, and can be found here:


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