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Covid Is Indeed Far More Dangerous To the Old Than To the Young

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Here’s a letter to someone who says that he graduated in 1980 with a degree in mathematics from George Mason U.

Mr. S__:

Thanks for your e-mail. It’s especially nice to hear from a GMU alum.

In response to my letter in today’s Wall Street Journal [2] – in which I note that Florida’s age-adjusted Covid death toll isn’t terribly worse than California’s – you write that “age-related rankings [are] actually irrelevant in this case because Covid itself is indiscriminate with respect to age.”

With respect, your claim is incorrect. Covid is highly discriminate with respect to age. According to the latest figures from the CDC [3], in the U.S. 75 percent of “deaths involving COVID-19” are of people 65 years old and older, with people 85 years old and older accounting for a whopping 27 percent of all Covid deaths. The percentage of Covid deaths of people below the age of 50 is a mere six. The risk posed by Covid to the very young is minuscule.

As summarized on Twitter by Stanford medical professor Jay Bhattacharya, “Mortality from #COVID19 [4] differs more than a thousand-fold between the old and young.”

Inexplicably to me, many people believe that this steep age-gradient of Covid fatalities is irrelevant. But irrelevant or not, no one can deny that this steep age-gradient is real and that it was known early on (as evidenced, for example, by this March 20th, 2020, op-ed in the New York Times [5]).

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030