It’s A Numbers Game

When Numbers Get Serious*

Two times two is twenty-two
Four times four is forty-four
When numbers get serious
They leave a mark on your door
Urgent! Urgent!
A telephone ringing in the hallways
When times are mysterious
Serious numbers will speak to us always

* Click here to sing along with Paul Simon

  • Hundreds, possibly thousands, of lives would have been saved by locking down the UK two weeks earlier
  • 95% of COVID-19 deaths in UK hospitals were among patients who had ‘underlying health conditions’
  • Over 11,000 people have died of COVID-19 in UK care homes since the start of the epidemic; approx. 1/3 of all UK deaths
  • Some estimates suggest that perhaps only 6.9% of the UK has been infected by COVID-19
  • Immunity to C-19 may last only 6 months
  • London has had only 634 new cases in the last fortnight, compared to >1000/day at the peak
  • A one-hour C-19 detection test will be widely available within 4 months
  • 2 in 3 people have put on weight during the lockdown, increasing their health risks; 1/3 over 7 lbs.
  • 260 miles – the distance travelled by the UK PMs political advisor, Dominic Cummings, to self-isolate
  • There has been a 238% increase in cyber attacks since the lockdown
  • 999 out of 1000 Brits have not died of C-19, so far
  • The UK age-related risk of dying of C-19, based on deaths up to 1st May:
    • Age 0-14: 1 in 5.3337,266
    • 15-14: 1 in 279,550
    • 25-44: 1 in 44,423
    • 45-64: 1 in 4,388
    • 65-74: 1 in 1,143
    • 75-90: 1 in 225
    • 90+: 1 in 81

The above numbers were gleaned from the reading matter at hand in Schloss Ericle this morning. However, the most salient number is not in the above list:

One, Un, Eins, Yī, Ett, En, Uno, Una, ਇਕ, Um, Odin, Jeden, Eis,
אחד, Yksi, Bat, Ekab, Moha, واح, Wahed etc.

There’s only one you, & only one me. All the above numbers become irrelevant to us when an existential threat knocks at our door. There’s little personal solace to be found in the bad luck that the ‘1 in X’ is you. However, this truth notwithstanding and regardless of the statistical knowns & the unknowns, the fact is that C-19 represents an incremental risk; one that is become ever more clear and quantifiably reliable. The government has rightly invoked personal fear within its strategies to amend personal social behaviour. It remains to be seen whether it has overcooked the messaging; as it’s not just the fact that personal fear may disrupt herd necessities for a proportionate response to the pandemic, it also a concern that disproportionate personal fear of C-19 will cause disproportionate personal harm via the neglect of other greater personal physical and mental threats.

The key to our moving forward through this pandemic tension will hinge, in all likelihood, on government policies – and our response to them – that reflect and respond to the tension between the fundamental truths faced by the herd and our individual fears of personal misfortune.

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1 Response to It’s A Numbers Game

  1. Ericle says:

    [From: John W]
    I am enjoying your muses… at least you found a mildly reassuring statistic by putting the ‘early old’ into 65 – 74 bracket. My main feeling about all of this right now is that I didn’t really start to consider myself old until early March 2020, but now definitely feel that way. A thought on all of this which seems obvious but I haven’t seen pushed by anyone, but I am sure will figure in subsequent histories. We have a clear paradox that – aside from East Asia -several countries not renown for their healthcare systems – like Greece, Czech Republic and further afield South Africa – appear to have fared much better than countries with the reputation of having high standard systems – the UK most notably plus Italy, Spain, France. It seems the ability to take quick decisions and to follow WHO advice was much more important than the number of ICU beds or ventilators per head of population.

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