, I wonder how flu seasons (before 2020) in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark compare with other European countries? Maybe it can help gain some insights about normal social interactions in these countries vs. their responses to COVID-19.
I know, right? And not even that they are so steep, but persist at high levels for such long periods -- much of the southern hemisphere's winter. It looks like a similar trajectory for the US over our winter.
Actually, if we sum up the deaths above normal in countries like Peru (compute the area under the curve), it is roughly equal on a per capita basis to New York City last spring. The difference is New York City suffered that amount of deaths in just a few weeks, with a rate of death peaking at 650% above normal! When plotted, it's staggering. Each horizontal bar represents an additional 20% rate of death above normal.
This is what happens when COVID-19 hits and catches society unaware, or when society is too slow to react. You get a massive
spike of illness and death. The South American countries reacted before things got really bad, and managed to slow the spread a lot, but not enough to reverse the curve entirely. So they end up with a similar amount of death, spread over a longer period of time, which helps reduce hospital load. That's a perfect demonstration of "flatten the curve" mantra. Still, I think it's better to actually try to stomp the curve back down to more manageable levels whenever it gets out of control.
Comparing these data also helps boost confidence in understanding the true mortality rate. In New York City, the total number of official deaths is 25,909. Deaths above normal is 27,400. Out of a population of about 8.4 million, that means about 0.32% of the population has died. Yet from widespread antibody studies, we know only about 1/3 of the population has been infected. That implies an infection mortality rate close to 1%.
Now consider Peru. Peru's population is about 32.5 million, and the deaths above normal this year are 103,600, which is also about 0.32%. While we lack similar antibody studies in Peru, I still think we can be confident that less than half of the entire population has been infected, much less 100%, again implying the actual mortality rate is at least 0.5%, and maybe closer to 1%.