230,000 people die in Australia every year. So why the fuss over coronavirus? Here’s why.

I’ve heard people question why so many restrictions have been put in place to combat coronavirus (Covid-19) even though it hasn’t killed that many people. This is a major reason why.

Just over 100 people have died in Australia because of coronavirus (Covid-19). Every single case represents a human being and the pain and suffering for the people who contracted the disease and their loved ones is very real.

However, it is also true, as you can see in the table below, that many more people die from other causes. Why aren’t we forcing people to exercise every day to prevent heart disease? Why aren’t we banning sugary drinks to prevent heart disease and diabetes? Why aren’t we banning smoking to prevent lung cancers and other problems? Why aren’t we banning cars, given that our road toll is about 1,200 every year? (The road toll doesn’t even make the top 20, let alone the top ten.)

So why have we upset so many aspects of our lives and of the economy to fight coronavirus? Well, this is my take (below the table).

Cause of death in Australia (in 2018)

Number

Rank

Median Age (years)

Miscarriage
(basically, death of baby inside womb due to natural causes)
approx 100,000

1

pre-birth
Abortion
(basically, the baby, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid are sucked out of the womb with a mini vacuum cleaner in a procedure called vacuum aspiration)
approx 70,000

2

pre-birth
Ischaemic heart diseases
(basically, heart attacks; the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen because the arteries supplying blood become blocked)

17,533

3

84.7

Dementia, including Alzheimer disease
(a loss in awareness and an inability to plan, reason, hold complex thoughts etc.)

13,963

4

89

Cerebrovascular diseases
(basically, strokes: the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen because the arteries become blocked or they burst)

9,972

5

86.2

Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung
(basically, cancer of the respiratory system; abnormal growths of tissue that interfere with normal functioning)

8,586

6

73.6

Chronic lower respiratory diseases
(basically, lung damage; causes include tobacco smoke and other toxins, pollution…)

7,889

7

80.9

Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus
(basically, cancer of the intestines; abnormal growths of tissue that interfere with normal functioning)

5,420

8

77

Diabetes
(basically an inability to regulate blood sugars effectively)

4,656

9

81.4

Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue
(basically, cancer of bone marrow, the blood, lymph, and lymphatic system)

4,612

10

78.2

I believe that it comes down to the fact that no government (state or federal), can be blamed for most causes of death, but if any government did nothing about coronavirus and fatalities were higher in that territory than other territories, then they could be blamed directly. If, for example, Victoria had done nothing about coronavirus while NSW had lock downs, and Victoria’s coronavirus death toll was 500 and NSW’s was only 50, then the extra deaths in Victoria could (and would) be seen as the Victorian government’s fault.

Therefore, generally, no government really wanted to do anything hugely different to any other government because they didn’t want to be blamed. You can’t blame any government for the road death toll because cars have been around for a century. You can’t blame any government for heart disease, because heart disease has been around for, well, who knows how long? As long as seat belt laws and speed limits are put in place and there’s a bit of research funding given to scientists trying to reduce the impact of heart disease and cancer, governments can’t be blamed for most deaths.

(Whether abortion, the number 2 cause of death in Australia every year, fits neatly into my theory above is debatable. Many people do blame governments for allowing this huge loss of life to occur.)

Now I don’t mean to be cynical. I am definitely not saying that governments don’t care about people and that they only care about votes. I genuinely believe that they (individual members of governments) would actually blame themselves if more people had died because of inaction.

Weighing up the the value of the economy vs the value of human lives is something that governments do all the time. But if a government hadn’t done anything about coronavirus and more people had died in one territory compared to other territories, the people in that territory would have blamed that government and most government members themselves would have felt responsible on a deeply personal level.

So, maybe they went too hard on the lock downs and maybe they didn’t. Being in government must be very difficult! A lot of it was educated guess work and it’s probably true that the federal government’s initial decision to stop people coming into Australia from China was the biggest factor that kept us relatively safe from this new virus. So far.

Anyway, I’ve gotta get out and do some heart-disease-destroying, diabetes-diminishing, cancer-reducing exercise. Before the government imposes it on me for my own good.

 

Figures in the table above come from

Abort 73,
the Parliament of Australia website,
and
The Australian Bureau of Statistics. Their figures do not include deaths prior to birth and they break up cancers into different types. If all cancers were counted together, cancer would probably rate as number 3 on the list above.

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