Covid-19 compared to other pandemics this century

According to microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles, compared to other pandemics this century Covid-19 is a bad roll of the dice.

Stuff: We lost this round of pandemic dice

I think it helps to think of these outbreaks and pandemics as a handful of dice.

The dice represent:

  • The microbe and how it spreads.
  • What symptoms it causes.
  • How it can be treated and prevented.
  • How each dice falls influences how the outbreak plays out.

With Covid-19, we’ve rolled almost the worst possible combination, with a collection of ones.

Covid isn’t as lethal as the likes of Ebola, but as symptoms are often not noticed or mild, and take time to present, Covid can spread before it is discovered.

Wiles details the other pandemics in the last 20 years, and compares aspects of them to Covid.

Sars (2002-2004)

Sars appeared in late 2002, also caused by a coronavirus that spreads through the respiratory route. Unlike Covid-19, people with Sars had a high fever early in their infection. That made it easier to identify infected people and stop human-to-human transmission.

By mid-2004, Sars was gone and hasn’t been seen since. By then 8000 people had been infected and over 800 had died. Cases had spread to almost 30 countries and territories.

Covid-19 also emerged in a globally connected part of the world and at a time of year when lots of people were moving about.

H1N1 (early 2009 to August 2010)

H1N1 was a variant of the influenza viruses from humans, birds, and pigs that caused a pandemic from early 2009 to August 2010. Like normal seasonal flu, H1N1 spread through the respiratory route. But unlike normal flu, it was more likely to cause breathing difficulties in young, healthy people. Thankfully, a vaccine was available by late 2009. It’s thought H1N1 caused about 500,000 deaths. 

That was over about 18 months.

Ebola (December 2013-June 2016)

The largest Ebola outbreak began in Guinea, West Africa in December 2013 and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ebola transmits through bodily fluids from symptomatic people. That means it’s easier to stop than Covid-19, in which people are infectious before they realise they have the virus.

While vaccines were in clinical trials by mid-2015, the Ebola outbreak was mainly brought under control by stopping human-to-human transmission. It also helped that it was in a part of the world that isn’t quite so globally connected. The outbreak was officially declared over in June 2016. By then over 28,000 people had been infected and over 11,000 had died.

Ebola had a very high death rate for those infected, but was much more easily contained.

Zika (2015-2016)

Zika is the virus that causes babies to be born with small heads. It’s spread by mosquito bite and caused an outbreak in the Americas, Pacific, and Southeast Asia in 2015 and 2016. In many mosquito species, the females feed on people one time before laying their eggs. Zika is carried by mosquitoes that feed more than once. As a result, they spread the virus from infected to uninfected people as they ate. The outbreak was largely controlled by getting rid of mosquitoes carrying the virus.

Current Covid totals (Worldometer):

  • Total detected cases – 25 million
  • Total attributed deaths – 848,925

The closest comparison is H1N1, with about half the deaths. A vaccine was available within the year it began but it still nearly a year to eliminate it.

New Zealand has got off lightly so far, with just 1,729 cases and 22 deaths.

Initially Australia had a comparable result but after a big outbreak in Victoria cases have jumped to 25,166 and deaths to 611.

We have been mostly successful at containing Covid but the current outbreak in Auckland is a concern. It shows how quickly things can change.

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41 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  31st August 2020

    This woman cannot pass a TV camera without giving her opinion on a number of health issues – many outside her chosen field of expertise.
    By cherry picking a selected few diseases I believe she is trying to accentuate how lucky we have been with the Looney Left mismanaging Covid in New Zealand.
    Why did she not mention the common flu which annually is responsible for circa 500 deaths ?

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  31st August 2020

      Hopefully we are all going to get a chance to vote on whether we want the looney left or the rabid right to run the show for the next three years.

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  31st August 2020

        Patzcuaro, as you know National are nearly as socialist as Labour.
        Who exactly are the “ rabid right ?”

        Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  31st August 2020

          Who are the looney left?

          Reply
          • John J Harrison

             /  31st August 2020

            Apart from Duker who has a hobby of collecting Canadian dollar coins featuring the Looney bird they include the socialist Labour Party, the socialist/ communist Green Party and NZ First.
            All of whom signed off in funding $14 million for the Green school with 25 students who pay up to $43,000 P.A. to attend.

            Reply
            • Patzcuaro

               /  31st August 2020

              You are forgetting the National Party who apparently are just about as socialist as the Labour Party.

            • John J Harrison

               /  31st August 2020

              Patzcuaro, not even National would approve the Green school fiasco.
              As you are aware this proposal was rejected by the Economic and Development ministers committee.
              Interesting that Sir Brian Roache also sits on the group oversees such proposals!
              Shaw spent months pushing this disaster, aided and abetted by the Labour and NZ First ministers who also signed off on his “ pet “ project.

            • Patzcuaro

               /  31st August 2020

              We seem to have strayed from COVID-19, spending $14 million on any school with 25 students seems excessive. I think it is called pork barrel politics.

    • Blazer

       /  31st August 2020

      ‘By cherry picking a selected few diseases ‘…she mentioned the most deadly new ones that have appeared in the last 20 years.

      The flu,cancers ,heart disease and suicide have been incurable for…years.

      Reply
    • “This woman cannot pass a TV camera without giving her opinion on a number of health issues – many outside her chosen field of expertise.”

      A common enough affliction – one you demonstrate daily.

      Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  31st August 2020

    The extreme variations in severity of the disease are still inexplicable and short of a vaccine seem to be the key to finding a solution. Should be more focus on it.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  31st August 2020

      If only National were in power eh Al…it would be eliminated by now!

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  31st August 2020

        No, but bureaucrats and academics wouldn’t be calling the shots.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  31st August 2020

          Bureaucrats and academics wouldn’t be calling the shots so then any and all blame could be laid at the feet of the PM? Hang on a minute, that’s how it is anyway isn’t it?

          Seriously though, you’ve been around, should we get rid of bureaucrats and academics? Should politicians act on ‘gut instinct’ and their own (self) perceived wisdom?

          Are politicians not to refer to bureaucrats and academics at all? Or if they do refer to them ignore all that they say? And if they do listen to advice from people who know stuff and act on that, be subject to the claim that bureaucrats and academics are calling the shots?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  31st August 2020

            The law they are using to impose on us is quite clear it is the bureaucrat calling the shots. It shouldn’t be.

            Reply
            • duperez

               /  31st August 2020

              So should the PM preface comments about regulations or laws being introduced with, “We are imposing a law on you. We do this because we think it is necessary. We are calling the shots, not bureaucrats. They have contributed to the discussion by giving us information.”

              Would you be happy then?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st August 2020

              That would be at least a first step towards accountability. The next would be to answer to Parliament for those decisions.

        • Blazer

           /  31st August 2020

          No ‘junior staffers’ would be.

          Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  31st August 2020

          If you are not wanting to take the advice of bureaucrats and academics, where are you going to get your advice? Are you omniscient?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  31st August 2020

            There is a difference between taking advice and following it. Especially when it appears a very narrow range of expertise is all that is being heard.

            Reply
  3. Tom Hunter

     /  31st August 2020

    Back in April I collected a couple of graphs/charts that show these comparisons quite nicely, The Great Pandemics

    Reply
    • John J Harrison

       /  31st August 2020

      Tom, absolutely PERFECT.
      Send it on to the pink haired “ expert.”

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  31st August 2020

        You highlight “expert.” It’s clear you have a thing about Wiles.

        Is it the hair? That she’s a woman? That she’s in the news and you’re not? That her advice is sought and yours isn’t? That you are jealous of her knowledge? That she actually has a field of expertise?

        Your initial comment above is not just churlish, it’s childish.

        Reply
        • The long pink hair makes her look frivolous and as if she’s trying too hard to look young.

          Reply
          • John J Harrison

             /  31st August 2020

            Kitty, you mean “ mutton dressed as lamb.”

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  31st August 2020

              Hell you’re no oil painting….John….the goatee didn’t work…either.

            • John J Harrison

               /  31st August 2020

              Blazer, against my better instincts I must confirm that during my daily constitutional 5 K walks around Napier Hill I am constantly rewarded by wolf whistles from innumerable young ladies.
              No doubt due to my wonderful legs, general stature, Brad Pitt looks and intellect.
              Do you suffer from similar sexual harassment?

            • Blazer

               /  31st August 2020

              yes but being able to wolf whistle without giggling was a requirement for your 2…CAREGIVERS….Adonis!

          • so it’s all about looks rather than the substance – riiiight.

            More churlishness, childishness, and tacky identity politics from people who should know better.

            Reply
            • Not at all. But if you want people to take you seriously, don’t have a very dated look that makes you look like a doll rather than an adult. She’s not a teenager, but her appearance is stuck in a time warp.

            • Blazer

               /  31st August 2020

              Thats just your OPINION….doubt you are any fashion icon.

              Just another typical example of your jealousy of successful women in the ..public eye.

              Hiopeless.

            • Patzcuaro

               /  31st August 2020

              @Kitty do you mean you have to look like a National voter to be taken seriously.

          • Don’t be absurd, I admire many successful women (and men) but don’t feel the need to fawn over everyone who’s somehow got themselves on television and become a ‘celebrity’.

            If someone walks around in what looks like a cheap pink nylon wig, they must expect people to comment on it.Who on earth would be jealous of an attention-seeking person who looks like that ?

            Reply
          • duperez

             /  31st August 2020

            And if you were blind you would treat what she has to say more seriously? Or if she were a male?

            Reply
  4. Pink David, Alan Wilkinson, Tom Hunter – all mouthed off at the end of June about how COVID deaths had dropped away to near nothing in America.

    Pink David refused to accept that young people can still infect older, more vulnerable folk, and insisted that COVID-19 is the same as the common flu.

    Tom Hunter suggested I was being hysterical for warning that the increase in positive tests in America would inevitably result in increased deaths.

    Alan accused me of cherry-picking data and ignoring reality.

    Some reality: far-right flakey denials and alternative realities fed by conspiracy theorists and Trumpagandists (not always different people)

    Since June 28, another 62,000 Americans have died from of COVID-19.

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  31st August 2020

      “Since June 28, another 62,000 Americans have died from of COVID-19.”

      Untrue. The numbers being recorded as death with, or presumed with Covid-19. Only 6% of the number have only Covid as a cause of death. Your numbers are also based on date of record, a very large proportion of which actually died prior to June 28.

      We are seeing dramatic increases in positive tests in Europe as well now. Where are the deaths?

      “Pink David refused to accept that young people can still infect older, more vulnerable folk, and insisted that COVID-19 is the same as the common flu.”

      CDC’s data shows it is comparable to a relatively bad flu. Covid is over in Sweden, and it ranks as the 4th worst flu season in 30 years.

      “Some reality: far-right flakey denials and alternative realities fed by conspiracy theorists and Trumpagandists (not always different people)”

      Betting odds as of this morning.

      Trump 1.90
      Biden 1.90

      Last week Trump was 2.65. End of this week, Trump will be odds on. That is reality.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  31st August 2020

        Speaking of reality, where did you find, “Covid is over in Sweden”?

        Reply
      • Alan Foster

         /  31st August 2020

        Let’s wait until the Northern Hemisphere has another Winter

        Reply
    • Tom Hunter

       /  31st August 2020

      Tom Hunter suggested I was being hysterical for warning that the increase in positive tests in America would inevitably result in increased deaths.

      I suggested that you were being hysterical in claiming that the pandemic was roaring back out of control when the CDC themselves were pointing out that deaths would continue for some time even while the PIC rate steadily dropped back to the baseline levels of being called an epidemic. I think I also said that on that basis the epidemic was over, even as deaths would continue. And recall that they refer to the PIC (Pneumonia, Influenza, COVID) because they know how difficult it is to differentiate between the three for actual cause of death.

      Here’s their latest report as of August 22:. As they themselves, everything’s down.

      And of course the reason for your hysteria was a simple roll-over of War, Economic failure, and Avennati in 2017, Mueller in 2018/19, Ukraine and Impeachment in 2019/20 and yada, yada, yada. In other words you were certain that the COVID-19 pandemic is what would finally kill OrangeManBad.

      I suggest focusing on the riots from now on. I’m sure you can talk up White Supremacists and militias in Democrat cities and States. Don’t forget to call Trump voters fascists too. That’ll be the winning ticket.

      Reply

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