Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Hunger and COVID

with one comment

Apparently, the UN estimates “10,000 child deaths” from* hunger related to COVID, with “[m]ore than 550,000 additional children” suffering from wasting—each month. Presumably, the adults in the affected areas are not magically protected from hunger either …

*The text uses the word “linked”, which does not necessarily imply a causal connection. Contextually, however, a causality from COVID (counter-measures) to hunger is almost certainly intended and present.

To get some sense of how large these monthly numbers are: The current Wikipedia page on COVID-19 seems* to see overall numbers of infections and deaths at roughly 14 million resp. 600 thousand as of July 18. At current rates, it would take these child deaths 60 months to catch up with the current COVID deaths, and roughly 25 to catch up with the overall cases (infection vs. wasting—and the effects of wasting are likely to be worse in the long term). In other words, we are talking of something highly significant in its own right—not just a mole hill next to a COVID mountain. (And this is just one of the side-effects.)

*I estimate off two graphs. Looking for more exact or current numbers is fairly pointless as there are great complications with over- and underestimation, inconsistent reporting in different countries, etc. In addition, these numbers will continue to grow.

Of course, these effects are largely caused not by the disease, per se, but by the counter-measures against it, showing again how important it is to actually consider opportunity costs and side-effects, and to look at more than one criterion*, whatnot, before implementing far-going policies. Looking e.g. at my adopted Germany, I would consider it a near** certainty that the counter-measures has done more harm than good, which I speculated as far back as mid-march. It also shows that the effects of COVID can be both highly indirect and only manifest fully in a faraway future: How many of those wasting children will not die this year but still have ten years cut off the end of their lives? What about non-lethal health effects, like a stunted growth or mental development due to malnutrition? (Similarly, how many Germans will die a few months or years prematurely in the future, due to the direct and indirect effects of that isolation that took place in 2020? For that matter, what about the additional strain on the already strained European economies when the campaign to “save the starving children in Africa” comes? )

*Which will depend on the situation and the list can potentially be quite long. Two obvious extensions in the case of COVID are changes in non-COVID deaths in addition to just COVID deaths and effect on economic growth, unemployment, bankruptcies, whatnot in addition to just effects on deaths (whether overall or just COVID-deaths).

**As we can only speculate about what would have happened without counter-measures, there is some small remaining uncertainty.

Excursion on interpretation by idiots:
Unfortunately, I suspect that many will jump to the opposite conclusion of what is warranted (and/or that e.g. some politicians will try to spin it in the opposite direction): Oh, my those poor children, COVID is so horrifying—we need more counter-measures!

Excursion on UN and credibility:
While I have no particular reason to doubt these numbers, apart from the obvious problems with correct estimates, I do mention that the UN and its various organizations have little credibility as sources of data, in my eyes. There is too much politics and ideology, and too little science, involved.


Written by michaeleriksson

July 28, 2020 at 8:49 am

One Response

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  1. […] are exemplified by my search for an English source for the topic of my previous text (I encountered the topic in German): I was met by a number of entries in the search list that […]

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