How Risky is Coronavirus?

I was just returning home from office and saw this warning banner (see figure 1), which my local municipality office hung on the middle of the road, saying, and I translate from local Gujarati language,

You are now entering a Coronavirus infected high risk area so be careful.

Figure 1: Warning about Coronavirus high risk area

Any sane thinking person will immediately ask a question that how high this risk of Coronavirus is? The risk obviously is of dying from disease called Covid-19 which is caused by this novel Coronavirus. The next logical question is, how do we measure this risk? We measure it by the probability of dying because of Covid-19.

Another very important issue that no one is discussing is, what is the risk of Coronavirus compared to other risks in life? We all know that life is full of risk. The day when you enter the world from your mother’s womb the risk of dying from one or the other cause is always present. And ultimately death is inevitable. What is important for us to know is, how risky those causes compared to each other are? Only based on this information of relative risk we can assess the danger and react accordingly. The ideal thing is that we have an easily available table of risk probabilities of different causes of deaths worldwide. This is extremely important to dispel the falsehood, that the authorities and mainstream media are spreading right now like a wild fire scaring everyone, once and for all that life is without any risks and that only Coronavirus/covid-19 presents the risk of dying.

Unfortunately we do not have any such table yet available, but here it is not needed. A simple comparison of Coronavirus with already available information of various causes of death in India will do the job of comparing covid-19 with those other risks. For example, within eight months time how many people have died because of covid-19, we are simply taking this data for granted instead of going into the details of co-morbidity factors etc., discussion, in India? As of now total 69,668 people have died because of covid-19 in India (source). Now, let’s see other causes of death in India. How many people die every year in a road accident? In 2019 some 1.54 lakh people have died on Indian roads and highways (source). Even if we double the number of covid-19 deaths at the end of 2020 from now on then there will be total 1,39,336 deaths. This means, driving on Indian roads is more risky than Coronavirus! How many people die due to suicide in India? According to NCRB data in year 2019  on an average 381 people committed suicide daily i.e., 1,39,123 annual deaths (source). According to this data by the month of August 2020 total 91,440 people have died due to suicide in India. Compared to that only 69,668 people have died due to covid-19. So the risk of dying by suicide is higher than the risk of Coronavirus. How many people die due to cancer every year? Data shows that in 2018 total 7,84,821 died due to cancer in India (source). So the risk of dying due to cancer in India is much higher than Coronavirus. Deaths due to cardiovascular diseases in India is rising rapidly. According to one study some 28 lakh people died in year 2016. That is definitely a much higher risk compared to Coronavirus. The same goes for diabetes also. If we go on comparing like this then we will see that compared to other causes Coronavirus is not that risky at all.

Now, do we see any warning sign like the above on Indian roads or airports put up by local authorities warning people that, you are now entering on Indian roads which are highly risky to your life so be careful all the time? Do we feel the constant fear of driving on Indian roads like what people are experiencing today about Covid-19? No, we don’t even notice any such risk while driving  because we are not bombarded daily with road accident propaganda. Do we have such warning signs at the entrance of every city that, you are now entering a high suicide risk area so be careful? Or on Indian airports that, you are now entering a country which is high risk in diseases like cardiovascular or diabetes or cancer or malaria or dengue etc? Do we hear constant bombardment of sensationalized news of every road accident death every year? Or every suicide? Or every cancer or diabetes death? Did we ever see a lockdown like the one we witnessed in India to stop road accident deaths? To stop suicide or diabetes or cancer or asthma? Readers know the answers of these rhetorical questions.

So why this fear mongering by the authorities? Why not give people a full picture of risk to their lives in India? Why just focus on Coronavirus? What are they gaining from this fear mongering? These are some the questions that Indians and people world over need to ask their governments before believing them. If we don’t do this then our lives are in danger at the hands of governments and their cronies, who are trying to profit from this virus, for sure.

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