It’s hard to come up with a number of covid deaths that the country might accept in the long run. But several epidemiologists who advised Biden’s transition team suggest one place to start: looking at the toll of similar illnesses before the pandemic.
“In recent years, the U.S. has accepted as many as 35,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths per week from influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) alone,” Céline Gounder, Rick Bright and Ezekiel Emanuel wrote in a Stat op-ed last week.
“We use that as a starting point for discussion because that is a level of hospitalization and death that society was willing to bear where we did not close schools, we did not have lockdowns, we did not mask,” Gounder said in an interview. “We didn’t do anything special, we just went about our lives.”
The problems with tracking influenza, RSV, covid and other viral respiratory infections as a whole is a lack of data, Emanuel said.