I was recently pointed to an article on the BBC website quoting Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter on the public’s (mis)understanding of the risk that COVID-19 poses. I usually stay away from all things BBC because, as we all know it is mostly a mouthpiece for virtue signaling, left-wing agendas and SJWs. But the quote from health correspondent Nick Triggle sounded surprisingly sensible: “What is remarkable about coronavirus is that if we are infected, our chances of dying seems to mirror our chance of dying anyway over the next year, certainly once we pass the age of 20.”
Unfortunately Triggle goes on to say: “That means your risk of dying is effectively doubled from what it was”. And that is where he blew it, with yet another (maybe unintentional?) sweeping under the rug of what needs to be said. YOUR RISK DOESN’T DOUBLE. With the exception of a few unfortunate souls, the vast majority of people dying from COVID aren’t dying because of COVID. They are dying because of their comorbidities, the ones that were already lined up to be their cause of death, which made it easier for the virus to infect them seriously. These are mostly comorbidities that could have been easily avoided, or at least lessened: cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and hypertension among others. Even for those at higher risk from COVID your risk is only increased in the very short-term, because your risk of dying soon was already too high.
CLAIM: “Almost nobody is dying of COVID. They are dying of comorbidities. COVID just makes the process more sudden.”
True or false?
Okay, this isn’t technically true, because the strong reaction to the viral infection is often the direct cause of death. A heart attack rarely happens out of the blue – the cause is a history of cardiovascular disease caused by chronic metabolic issues or inflammation (caused by lack of exercise and often overeating unhealthy foods). The same is true with COVID – young people, with no prior immunity to COVID, aren’t getting ill. The virus needs your body to be susceptible first, to the extent that your risk of death was already greatly increased anyway. The comorbidities listed above make your body susceptible.
I apologise to any of you who are 80+, who might be feeling affronted by me saying your comorbidity of old age could have been avoided. You have every right to ignore what I’m saying here. We can’t help getting older. Unfortunately, all-cause mortality increases as we age, and none of us will live forever. But people who are currently 30, 40 , 50 or even 60 can do a lot now to make their retirement years more pleasant, healthy and hopefully lengthy. Because it’s those age groups that are unhealthily out of shape, and it’s those age groups that could easily do something about it.
If one good thing comes out of COVID it should be for people to realise that even without a ‘killer’ virus they need to do something now to change their health for the better, for the present and the future. Triggle would have been better off saying: “If you think you’re at risk of getting COVID, you should be equally worried about dying from a heart attack or diabetes”. And you can do something now to prevent those in the future.Unsure of how to get started? Need guidance and motivation to put you on the right track? Online personal training can be a great option in lockdown, making sure there’s no delay to your progress, even while gyms are closed. Our every recommendation is tailored specifically to you, and your level of fitness, along with your goals, and where you want to be in a matter of months, or even weeks.