There’s no question that the November election will hinge, in large part, on the voting public’s perception of the Trump administration’s response to the COVID19 pandemic. It’s only fair to do so in comparison to how prior administrations have responded to pandemics. Conveniently, the guy running against President Trump had a chance to manage a pandemic when he was in office – the H1N1 pandemic. There’s so much innumeracy in this discussion that I felt it was super important to do some meaningful analysis. Democrats have already printed up tee shirts with “175,000 Deaths” on it. Saddle up.
First, some facts:
(1) 3 million people die in the US every year of all causes. Thus far, 177,000 have died from COVID. COVID deaths are very heavily concentrated in the older population who have a statistically higher probability of dying each year with a US life expectancy of 79 years.
(2) There have been 5.7 million reported COVID cases in the US and 177,000 deaths for a death rate of about 3%.
(3) When Joe Biden managed the last pandemic (H1N1) with his boss, there were 60.8 million cases and 12,469 deaths for a death rate of about 0.02%. Their administration obviously did a much worse job of containing the virus.
(4) H1N1 deaths were very heavily concentrated in young people and children who are statistically very unlikely to die in any given year.
(5) Had the H1N1 virus had the same death rate as COVID, there would have been 2 million deaths in the US, mainly children and young people. See below for the startling detail on deaths of young people from H1N1.
(6) Since we’re judging an administration’s response to a pandemic, it’s not meaningful to give either credit or blame to either administration for the ultimate lethality of a virus. Neither would they know that until it was over, nor would they have any control over it.
(7) The obvious conclusion is that the Trump administration did a significantly better job than the Biden/Obama team did in managing a pandemic, by about 12-fold. Biden just got lucky that, in the end, the H1N1 virus turned out to be less deadly.
Now, let’s go even deeper with the numbers. Since we know the breakdown by age of the deaths of both COVID19 (here) and H1N1 (here) from the CDC, we can estimate the number of life years lost to each virus. By “life year,” I mean the number of additional years of life lost. For example, a 15 year old child has an expected 64 life years to go (79-15) while a 78 year old has an expected life of 1 year.
We can easily perform an analysis across all age cohorts for both viruses to determine the total number of life years lost to each. As mentioned above, the COVID virus has killed 14x more people than H1N1, but the number of life years lost is a much lower ratio between the two.
My analysis found that, to date, the COVID virus has cost about 1.1 million life years and the H1N1 cost about 500,000. So, the 14x ratio drops to just 2x in terms of lives lost. Even if the number of deaths from COVID doubles from here (unlikely), the ratio would be 4x and not 14x. Biden starting to look not so good after all.
Let’s get more granular with the data because it starts to get even more interesting/scary. To date, 4,356 people under the age of 40 have died of COVID. 7,996 people under the age of 40 died from H1N1. That’s nearly 2x the number of deaths in younger healthier people from H1N1 compared to COVID. I’m not minimizing the pain of losing an 85 year old parent or grandparent, but most people would say, “Hey, he/she made it to 85; that’s a fantastic life.” Nobody would say that about a 27 year old. Nobody. And, yet, H1N1 killed significantly more young people than COVID has to date. Let me put that in terms a democrat would use since they like to blame Trump: Barack Obama and Joe Biden killed 2x the number of young healthy people with their H1N1 virus than Donald Trump has killed with his COVID virus.
Let’s get even more granular. Trigger warning for democrats – this is going to get ugly. There cannot be anything in the world more painful than losing a child. I’ve watched a few friends go through it and the word devastating cannot possibly do justice. The Obama/Biden H1N1 virus killed 2,440 children under the age of 15. The Trump COVID virus has killed about 200 children under 15. That’s 12x as many dead children from the Obama/Biden pandemic than the Trump pandemic.
That fact is worth stating again, in its own paragraph. The pandemic managed last time Joe Biden was in office killed 12 times as many children as the pandemic managed by Donald Trump.
Data and analysis are very important. Democrats hate it because it takes away the emotional outbursts that drive their party on CNN every night. But, as we start to make decisions about who to put in the oval office in November, and as we consider the response to a pandemic in so doing, let’s keep in mind that the Trump administration’s response to this pandemic has been significantly better than the Obama/Biden response to H1N1.