Covid-19: Not Nearly As Dangerous As You Think

Covid-19: Not Nearly As Dangerous As You Think

A sober look at the facts.

Robert J. Shillman, Ph.D.

There is no “urgent crisis” due to Covid-19 that requires a lock-down of citizens. That conclusion is based on the following:

* The probability of dying from the virus in the US is very low: 1.5 out of 10,000.

* The death rate attributed to Covid-19 in the US, which has placed increasing restrictions on people, is about the same as the death rate in Sweden, 2.0 out of 10,000, which has placed very limited restrictions on people.

Read below for objective details that lead to that conclusion:

Sources of Data: I used the most recent data for Covid-19 from the four websites below on 4/24/20.

[1] The Johns Hopkins’ website (for deaths by country…other than in the US).

[2] Worldometers (for deaths in the US).

[3] CDC (for deaths by age).

[4] Wikipedia (for population): The US has a population of 329,064,917, and Sweden has a population of 10,036,379.

Probability of Dying from Covid-19 in the U.S.

The number of deaths from the virus in the US is 50,988. The probability of dying from the virus in the U.S., therefore, is equal to the number of deaths divided by the U.S. population: 50,988/329,064,917 = 0.00015 = 0.015% = 1.5 chances out of 10,000 -- a very, very low probability. 

For comparison, 61,099 Americans died of the ordinary flu two seasons ago. That means that the chance of dying from the ordinary flu was 1.9 out of 10,000, which is higher than the Covid-19 death rate.

Furthermore, when you take into account that most of the deaths from Covid-19 were of older people with underlying medical issues, the chance of younger (under 55), healthy individuals dying from the virus is much, much lower -- probably 1.5 chances out of 100,000. 

Probability of Dying from Covid-19 in Sweden.

Sweden has had 2,152 deaths out of a population of 10.12 million, so the probability of dying from the virus in Sweden is about 0.02% = 2 chances out of 10,000;  very low and not much different than the US death rate. 


* If you’re over 55 or have serious health issues, there is a greater risk of dying from Covid-19 (or any flu) than if you’re under 55 and are in generally good health. So the prudent thing for older people or people with underlying health conditions to do is follow the CDC guidelines carefully and stay away from crowds. 

* Everyone else should just chill-out and go back to work.

After receiving his Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence at M.I.T., Doctor Shillman founded Cognex Corporation, currently the world’s leading provider of machine vision systems, computers that can “see,” that are used in factories around the world to guide the manufacturing and distribution of products ranging from potato chips to computer chips.