Were a hypothetical genie to have appeared on Earth in the late nineteen century and said he had a wonderful invention for the world but, to share it with us, he required over a million souls to be sacrificed annually, he’d be “sent packing”, with the genie, no doubt, muttering: “But they’d really like motor cars”.
Today, we know we could eradicate Australia’s 1,100 victim’s road toll by banning cars. We, quite rightly, have decided to put up with that awful human cost in exchange of the convenience of driving.
The 1892 ‘History of Whites’ (a London club) devotes a 300-page quarto volume to the famous Whites Betting Book, recording individual members’ betting on, mainly, public events – ‘would Emperor Napoleon defeat Wellington at Waterloo?’ etc.
A month or so ago I tried bet that the total of deaths in Australia of Corona plus ordinary flu would be less than the four-year flu average (last year’s flu season was mild, 2017 was bad). I found no takers. I would have ‘got on’ in 19th Century Whites.
The NY Times points out: “Direct comparisons of mortality rates are difficult, because Australia counts only deaths in which a hospital declares influenza the cause; there were 745 in 2017.
Not only is the United States population 13 times bigger, but the C.D.C. — aware that flu triggers even more deaths from pneumonia, sepsis, heart attack and other illnesses — looks at the increased death rates from many illnesses in bad flu years, and calculates how many were probably due to influenza.
At the peak of the 2017-2018 season, the C.D.C. estimated that more than 56,000 Americans would die. Officials later calculated that 79,000 had — which, the agency noted, is more people than usually fill a Super Bowl stadium.”
In contrast, if a corona sufferer is fatally hit by a bus – it is classed as a corona death.
I think a proper figure of ‘how many deaths in Australia (being 1/13 the size of the US) are precipitated by influenza is about 3,000 per year.
This year, I believe, influenza deaths will be a long-time low, thanks to our new cleanliness habits and social distancing.
Consequently, I think there is no doubt my proposed bet would have been a winning one.
This situation does beg the question, if the deaths from Corona and the flu could be kept to the yearly average, should the economic activity be loosened and the economy saved?
Were it loosened, we’d get to ‘herd immunity’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity much quicker and Corona would be all over for Australia.
A public debate would be good.