I present a Corona-Context graph. Plus corresponding data.
We see Wuhan-Corona (the right-most upswing) in the context of the past ninety years. We can now say on firm/near-final data for 2020 that there is really nothing to be particularly alarmed about — unless you are constantly alarmed.
There are a lot of lessons here, and they go some way towards giving fuel to the investigative fires of how the destructive Panic could have happened.
On the graph:
Expected: Deaths in 2020 in Sweden as a percentage of the population were expected to be 0.89% (the dotted orange line on graphs).
Actual: The year 2020, soon finishing, will end at either 0.92% or 0.93%, for an excess death range of +0.03% or +0.04% over the expected level (0.89%).
(This excess is entirely drawn from those above age 75. A calculation of the net-loss in “expected quality-life-years” associated with the Wuhan-Corona flu wave rounds to -0.00%, which means you’d have to go to the thousandths place to measure it at all — it looks likely to be as low as -0.001%; this post will leave aside this important point, but a deeper age- and condition-adjusted analysis might show Wuhan-Corona as among the milder of the distinct flu waves of our time.)
You see that 2020 shows a clear “spike.” Around half of the 2020 spike’s magnitude is itself an upward correction to the unusually mild 2019 (which was around -0.02% below the long-running baseline). (Note the worst flu year of the 2010s, 2012, was preceded by two modestly below-baseline years in 2010 and 2011.)
(Note also in the graph how the [quickly-forgotten] Swine Flu of 2009 does not show up at all in full-year mortality — the vaccination racket associated with it is another story. I doubt many gave much of any thought in the entirety of the 2010s to the 2009 Swine Flu Panic, but it was a clear harbinger of the madness of 2020. It’s funny what cycles complete themselves. Clearly there were deeper forces at work that allowed the Panic Pandemic.)
The most important finding, one which I first noticed and wrote about in April in May, is that we have firm evidence that Wuhan-Corona is an ordinary flu wave, of the kind all living adults have lived through and never noticed.
Here are all the severe flu years for 1930 to 2020. A ninety year old has lived through about twenty flu waves approximately equivalent to Wuhan-Corona. This is going to be the same in other countries.
Wuhan-Corona’s “+0.04%” is the realistic worst-case now. As of this writing at the end of November, the final ‘hit’ looks somewhat more likely to round to +0.03% than +0.04%; +0.04% is still possible but is looking on the “generous” side. +0.05% now looks very unlikely; late-2020 deaths would have to spike up to April levels to approach +0.05%.
This is all an exercise in number crunching. One might say, “What’s the difference if it’s +0.03% or +0.04% or even +0.05%, all drawn from over-75s? Those are trivial losses not justifying panic or lockdowns.” That is a valid opinion, but the exact final magnitude of Wuhan-Corona 2020 in the context of flu waves of (more-or-less) living memory is the purpose here.
Wuhan-Corona as Classic, ‘Ordinary’ Severe Flu Wave: No Surprise; “Called” on available data by the Anti-Panic side since April
It must be said, the data pointed this way (Wuhan-Corona are nothing to be alarmed about, NOT historically unprecedented) all along. The contextualized data pointing towards the anti-Panic position has been central to the anti-Panic side’s core argument; it is certainly the main reason I joined the anti-Panic side by mid-March, after leaning anti-Panic before that.
Versions of graphs that I’ve made here have appeared since April, but never, I think, exactly like this one and the accompanying dataset.
This effort, a graphing effort and identifying flu-spike years and comparing them to Wuhan-Corona in a coherent way (deaths as a % of population above recent baseline/trendline, i.e., “expected deaths”) is a continuation of a form of analysis I first proposed on these pages in April and May [see Part XI; May 10]. We were, by then, able to see the full scope of the Wuhan-Corona flu wave in Sweden. The estimates which were able to be made by that time have held up. Included in the title for Part XI was the argument that Sweden was set to lose “0.02% of the population,” which refers to deaths above the level expectable in 2020 (+0.02%) given the highly mild 2019 (-0.02%). If 2020 finishes at +0.04%, as it may well, that’s +0.02% above the expected level.
We are proud to say we were right in not only general terms but quite specific term, “called it” apparently correct even to hundredths place (!) back in May. This was not magic or psychic ability. It was simple data analysis observing the shape of the epidemic curves, really mundane work. And the rough outlines were already seen by late March, i.e., all along, as argued in the Wittkowski paper of March 30 and scattered anti-Panic alarm-sounding by many experts throughout March and April.
We were right. But we well remember that positions were hardened already by April. Commenters and writers at the Unz Review and its blogs including the Steve Sailer blog (distinguished for a particularly intelligent commentariat) were divided into two camps with the anti-Panic side predominant, but no data analysis seemed to budge positions of the other side in the first few months of the Panic. What caused this hardening of positions?
Flu waves that cause bumps amounting to a death rate of +0.03% of population occur about once every six years since the 1970s and Wuhan-Corona is one
Another look at the graph and the identification of the peak flu years shows the approximately Wuhan-Corona-level yearly excess has occurred nineteen times since 1930 (Wuhan-Corona the nineteenth). This means that someone who turned ninety years old in 2020 lived through this kind of flu wave about once every three years in his youth and adolescence (1930s-40s), once every four years in his early adulthood (1950s-60s), once every six years in his later working-age adulthood (1970s-90s), and about once every seven years in his retirement age (2000s-2020). With the 2010s mostly quite mild, one was due about now anyway.
Like volcanic eruptions, that they are coming in some approximate timeframe is predictable and unsurprising, but precisely dating them is impossible. That they occur is no cause for alarm.
But flu waves are not necessarily always just random and regular occurrences and are definitely exacerbated by prevailing conditions or disruptions. For example, in the past during famine years, we would expect flu spikes given that people are so weakened by a lack of food. As such, brief look at the 1940s flu waves is instructive.
Flu Waves of the 1930s and 1940s vs. Wuhan-Corona 2020
Sweden was not a combatant in the 1939-45 war in Europe, no battles were fought on its soil, no bombs dropped on its cities and towns, and yet they appear to have been hit by the war’s broad disruptive power anyway. Life is complex and fragile.
If we say the 1944-45-47 death spikes are attributable to war-related disruptions (of a highly complex nature; society does not like disruptions even among neighbors), that means +0.17% of population was “lost to WWII” in Sweden. That is around 5x the final hit from Wuhan-Corona (maybe 10x or 15x when adjusting for expected-life-years). The same magnitude for the three distinct flu waves of the 1930s, associated with the Great Depression, which carried obvious social-economic disruptive power.
World economic and other conditions are highly important towards mortality. This is obvious but it is a form of thinking that almost overnight went out of fashion in March 2020 when Lockdown-ism took hold. Many Western countries have seen alarming numbers of Lockdown-induced deaths. This was all predictable. Bad things happen when you overturn the apple cart of social stability.
The “1968 Pandemic” vs. Wuhan-Corona 2020
A respiratory virus pandemic first identified in Hong Kong about mid-1968 came to be called the Hong Kong Flu. I think it first began to hit Sweden in late 1968 and went into 1969, about the same timeframe or a little later than it began to spread in the USA.
The 1968-69 wave (+0.07% over two years) looks to be twice as strong as Wuhan-Corona (+0.03% or +0.04% for 2020) as measured here.
Now, 1968-69 is good point of comparison given that no one paid attention to the 1968-69 pandemic. It caused no lockdowns or really anyone to change any behavior. If 1968-69 was so minor as to be ignored at the time and not remembered at all by those who “lived through it,” why would we the people of 2020 cross the Panic-Rubicon for something half as strong?
This is going to look embarrassing with a few years’ perspective.
The numbers week by week. The percentages in bold are the total percent of population living January 1 that died by December 31 of that year. This data forms the basis of the above graphs:
I made the graphs in this post on the Nov. 20 update; the table is updated with near-finalized Week 45 data (by this point, straggler data will not make Week 45 rise much above +1% or +2% of the reported total). The final seven weeks of the year remain. We have a good idea of what to expect given the ICU hospitalization rate in November, and it will not exceed levels seen towards the tail-end of the March-to-May spike.
Either “Sweden Was Right” to not engage in any shutdowns and the pro-Panic coalition was disastrously wrong, – OR – we should have been doing shutdowns about once every six years, approximately forever.
A few more words explaining the trends in this graph:
(1) The death rate’s long-term decline from the 1930s to the 1950s is associated with improved medicine.
(2) The death rate’s steady rise beginning in the 1960s is due to an aging society. Deviation from the long-range trends represents either bad years or mild years. (The little spikes you see are flu waves. There are many, and 2020 is one.)
(3) The downtrend, especially pronounced in the 2010s, is due to:
- (a.) smaller birth cohorts in the late 1920s to mid-1940s (comparatively fewer old people), and
- (b.) the migrant policy of bringing in younger-age-range people as refugees who, given their age-profile, are less likely to die in near term and push down the total death rate.
Wuhan-Corona in 2020 puts deaths clearly above the baseline/trendline, but the longer graph is needed for historical context. Flu waves of this exact same magnitude are surprisingly regular. Given the intense focus on Wuhan-Corona in 2020 and its continued “politicization,” this still bears stressing. It is a point that needs to be made again and again. There is nothing unusual here. You have lived through these flu waves regularly with no crazy Lockdowns or even awareness they were going on.
A glance back at how wrong the pro-Panic side was in March/April
One more thing needs to be said: The wild but influential doom-predictions of March, from Niall Ferguson and other influential alarmists and their powerful backers, would have put total deaths in Sweden in the range of 2.0% of total population dying in 2020, something over +1.0% over the expected level (0.89%), including direct virus deaths and those much-hyped-but-seldom-seen “swamped hospital” deaths.
Some of the low-info Panic pushers and media coverage suggested death rates even higher, implying 3.0%, even 4.0% of the total population could die, instead of the expected 0.89%, so a +3.0% was likely unless we embraced hardline Lockdownism.
Given that the actual, observed, full, final impact of Wuhan-Corona is now in sight and it is either going to round to +0.03% or +0.04% for full-year 2020, the extremists/alarmists’ predictions (deaths at +1.0% to +3.0% of population over “normal”) were 25x to 100x too high.
One can find headlines abounding in March and April 2020 in which the pro-Panic side argued that Panic is Good — in this one case at least.
Finally, we can understand why good people fell for the Panic, and why many continue to be under its religion-like spell.
Even this “+0.04%” deaths figure in one year, it may seem trivial if expressed as a percentage, as I have here, but it may also seem scary if presented as a raw number without context. It will certainly seem scary if drumbeat by alarmists in power. If scenes of frantic people hazmat suits and hospitals are bombarded at people (wartime-like propaganda). If governments engage in crazy lockdowns (the manufacture of a crisis) partly as a power-play, often successful. But +0.04% is normal for a severe flu wave.