COVID-19 Deaths: Killed More Americans than the Vietnam War

Published

Quote

U.S. coronavirus-related deaths reached a somber milestone on Tuesday, surpassing the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War.

More than 58,300 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. That compares with the National Archives’ figure of 58,220 deaths from the Vietnam War, which lasted more than a decade.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 1 million in the U.S. on Tuesday ...

Read in its entirety: COVID-19 has now killed more Americans than the Vietnam War

Specializes in Psych. Has 7 years experience.

Highly misleading, since the Vietnam War was a military conflict and this coronavirus is a natural pathogen. By that logic, the flu killed more American people in 2017 than the Vietnam War did.

turtlesRcool

718 Posts

1 hour ago, A Hit With The Ladies said:

Highly misleading, since the Vietnam War was a military conflict and this coronavirus is a natural pathogen. By that logic, the flu killed more American people in 2017 than the Vietnam War did.

I wouldn't call it misleading. Most of us have a hard time wrapping our heads around what those kinds of numbers look like. I remember in college, there was a button project where a group was trying to collect 5 million buttons to represent victims of the holocaust. This doesn't mean that a button is in any way equal to a person, but most people have never seen 5 million of anything, so the idea was to give people a visual representation of the magnitude of the impact.

I'm not sure what your point is with the flu. I think more people would benefit from realizing the flu is a killer and not just a bad cold. While the flu vaccine is far from perfect, I wonder how many lives could be saved if more people got the vaccine. I'm hoping we come out of this crisis with a better understanding of how our personal choices affect those around us, and maybe more people will be willing to get a flu vax to protect the the very young, the elderly, the immune suppressed, even if they don't feel like the flu poses a risk to them.

Specializes in Psych. Has 7 years experience.

Vietnam War deaths were entirely avoidable and the casualties were overwhelmingly young men. The flu and other natural causes of death (read: Not humans' fault) overwhelmingly afflict those who are biologically predisposed to illness and mortality (e.g., the elderly, immunosuppressed, etc.)

turtlesRcool

718 Posts

I don't think anyone is saying a virus = war. I think the point of the comparison is the magnitude of death, not the manner. People tend to overestimate battle casualties and underestimate health-related deaths.

If we want to take the comparison further, we could say that many of the virus related deaths are preventable through mitigation measures (like adequate PPE, not just at the hospital but at nursing homes which house some of our most vulnerable people). Additionally, a healthcare system that is more geared towards preventative measures than profits would see a decrease in people with underlying conditions, savings lives. But that costs money, not just during a crisis, but over a long time on a system wide level. Are we willing to spend it on preventative care, affordable drug coverage, nurse and case manager outreach to increase compliance, etc.? Right now a huge percentage of our healthcare spending goes to overhead and for-profit entities.

The deaths of young men in battle is terrible, and, as you note, preventable. The deaths of people with underlying health issues is also terrible, and, to a degree, preventable. Our healthcare system is very broken, in many ways. I think it's misleading to say death from the flu and other natural causes of death are not human's faults when we, as humans, can achieve better health outcomes. That doesn't mean that flu, COVID, or other natural deaths are attributable to humans the way war deaths are, but I don't think we get to wash our hands of it and declare that all those people were destined to die anyway.

I think it's valid to ask what we are willing to spend and sacrifice on a war vs what we are willing to spend and sacrifice for public heath. It doesn't have to be a one-to-one comparison. But I think it's important not to lose sight of the fact that the people dying of COVID19 matter, even if they are old or immune compromised.

toomuchbaloney

9,748 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 44 years experience.

The president related the fight against this virus to a war. This war has cost more Americans their lives in a few months than were lost in years of the Vietnam war. And it's not over...

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

11 Articles; 17,554 Posts

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 46 years experience.
47 minutes ago, toomuchbaloney said:

The president related the fight against this virus to a war. This war has cost more Americans their lives in a few months than were lost in years of the Vietnam war. And it's not over...

The U.S. National Archives says that 58,220 American soldiers died in the Vietnam conflict, which began in 1955 and ended in 1975 --20 years. Covid -19 has killed 59,664 US citizens, first identified ~2/19/20 in TWO MONTHS (at 4/29/20 3:25PM per John Hopkins Covid dashboard.)

US has been adding about 2,000 deaths/day to dashboard the past 5 days. Virus is still going full force on East Coast and large communities across the country. So the finally tally of the Virus in just ONE year will be unimaginable.

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

11 Articles; 17,554 Posts

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 46 years experience.

NY Times

By Josh Katz, Denise Lu and Margot Sanger-Katz

April 28, 2020

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is Far Higher Than Reported, C.D.C. Data Suggests

Quote

Total deaths in seven states that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic are nearly 50 percent higher than normal for the five weeks from March 8 through April 11, according to new death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is 9,000 more deaths than were reported as of April 11 in official counts of deaths from the coronavirus.

The new data is partial and most likely undercounts the recent death toll significantly. But it still illustrates how the coronavirus is causing a surge in deaths in the places it has struck, probably killing more people than the reported statistics capture. These increases belie arguments that the virus is only killing people who would have died anyway from other causes. Instead, the virus has brought a pattern of deaths unlike anything seen in recent years....

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/28/us/coronavirus-death-toll-total.html

turtlesRcool

718 Posts

6 minutes ago, NRSKarenRN said:

NY Times

By Josh Katz, Denise Lu and Margot Sanger-Katz

April 28, 2020

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is Far Higher Than Reported, C.D.C. Data Suggests

There was an earlier NYT article that looked at the 'missing' deaths in several countries, comparing mortality rates from March through mid/early April 2020 and the same period in previous years after removing the known COVID cases from the mortality numbers (excess deaths - reported COVID deaths =missing deaths).

Of course, it's not clear how many of those are people who died from COVID, and how many were people who died from something else but were unable to access care in an overwhelmed healthcare system. Either way, those were definitely not people who were just going to die anyway from something else. Looking at 12 countries (NYC was counted as its own country for the purposes of this analysis), the authors found ~40,000 additional deaths that have not been accounted for in the COVID statistics.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/21/world/coronavirus-missing-deaths.html

InTheLongRun

61 Posts

Has 17 years experience.
On 4/29/2020 at 2:32 PM, toomuchbaloney said:

The president related the fight against this virus to a war. This war has cost more Americans their lives in a few months than were lost in years of the Vietnam war. And it's not over...

It isn't even close to over.

mr hanson

1 Post

I believed and lived through it, USA most unpopular war. This virus is freaking everyone out, If we learned to behave ourselves, which we won't, it will continue.

Specializes in Emergency. Has 21 years experience.
On 4/29/2020 at 3:45 PM, NRSKarenRN said:

The U.S. National Archives says that 58,220 American soldiers died in the Vietnam conflict, which began in 1955 and ended in 1975 --20 years. Covid -19 has killed 59,664 US citizens, first identified ~2/19/20 in TWO MONTHS (at 4/29/20 3:25PM per John Hopkins Covid dashboard.)

This is what blows my mind. The scale is terrifying.

And on a separate note, my state gently relaxed restrictions, anecdotal observations by our ED staff about behaviors by the general public is not encouraging. we expect a dramatic uptick in cases by the end of the month.