Where Did All the COVID Celebrity Deaths Go?
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Earlier (March 12): Mean Age of NYT Coronavirus Obituaries Is 66

From the Los Angeles Times news section:

Mike Gotovac, legendary Dan Tana’s bartender, dies from COVID-19 at 76

JUNE 19, 2020 11:40 AM

Okay, I’m sure Mike Gotovac was really, really famous, so far as bartenders go, but he has to be about the 100,000th most famous person in the L.A. Times’ circulation zone (which includes about 17 million people in the five counties of Greater Los Angeles).

I checked in again on Wikipedia’s list of “notable” people who have died of COVID-19. Maybe nobody is keeping this page up anymore, but most of the 126 people listed as having died of/from/with coronavirus in the United States are not terribly famous.

The mean age is 78.4.

Also, the notable personage death rate has plummeted this spring:

March: 29 deaths
April: 80
May: 16
June: 1

It could be that whoever was keeping up this page got bored and nobody picked up the slack.

But total deaths in the U.S. have fallen for the last six weeks:

Is the Infection Fatality Rate going down because:

  • Infections are going down and case rates are only going up due to more testing?
  • Medical care is improving?
  • The more vulnerable are avoiding getting infected while the less vulnerable make up an increasing percentage of recent cases?

You’d think we would know…

Also, there’s probably a class aspect: early on, notables got the virus a lot because they were being invited more places. But now they can avoid infection more easily.

The big question that nobody seems to have bothered to look into is: How many Quality-Adjusted Life Years (a.k.a., Disability-Adjusted Life Years) have been lost per coronavirus death? The health profession has tables worked out for just about every other disease of how many years are lost when adjusted for quality of life or disability, but nobody cares to ask this about COVID-19.

The only person I’ve seen mention the term lately is contrarian philosopher Peter Singer:

Is Age Discrimination Acceptable?
Jun 10, 2020

When the coronavirus overwhelmed Italy’s health-care system, a working group of the Italian Society of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation, and Intensive Care reluctantly supported rationing by age. They were right to do so.

MELBOURNE – Should we value all human lives equally? …

While some diseases are more likely to kill children, others, like COVID-19, pose the greatest risk to older people, and still others are equally likely to kill people at any age. The WHO uses a tool called the “disability-adjusted life year” (DALY) to measure the years of life lost by premature death and the years of life lived in less than full health. The more DALYs a disease causes to be lost, the greater its global burden.

The DALY is an imprecise tool. How one arrives at the right trade-off between the number of life-years lost and the years lived in any of the various possible states of “less than full health” is a controversial question. To object to taking into account the number of life-years lost, however, seems perverse. We should not be misled by talk of “saving lives.” What medical treatment does, if successful, is prolong lives. Successfully treating a disease that kills children and young adults is, other things being equal, likely to lead to a greater prolongation, and thus do more good, than successfully treating a disease that kills people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.

If this is “ageism,” is it wrong? The WHO metrics count every DALY equally, whether it is a DALY in the life of a healthy teenager or a DALY in the life of a healthy 90-year-old. Saving the life of the teenager counts for more not because the teenager is younger, but because saving a younger person is likely to mean enabling the person saved to live more years of life. …

As this example shows, discriminating on the basis of age is very different from discriminating on the basis of, say, race. Everyone who is old was once young. No one who is black was ever white. And there is no impartial, race-neutral perspective from which we can all see that it is in everyone’s interests to save the lives of white people rather than black people.

It seems like our current anti-discrimination mania is so pervasive that nobody wants to calculate how many years are being lost because that would be, like, racist.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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