• 23rd November 2020 - By adventuresofgreg
    % chance of death in 1 life time

    The spreadsheet:


    Last week, the CDC reported just over 2000 deaths per day from COVID 19, an increase of over 200% from just a month earlier. Back when there were 1000 deaths per day, I heard some say that COVID deaths were mostly elderly people with comorbidities, and the risk for a 40 year old healthy person is similar to the common flu virus. But this thought process does not consider the rate of growth of the death rate. It was clear (as the CDC projected) that the death rate was not going to stay at only 1000 deaths per day. It is also true that there have been relatively few deaths for people under 30, so their concerns aren’t the same as someone older than 50. So what I did in this analysis was take a look at the risk for different age groups assuming some estimated growth of the death rate for a period of time until distancing, masks, and the vaccine can start to work. Also, I felt that it would add meaning to the numbers by putting the risk into perspective and comparing the risk of dying by COVID 19 to other leading causes of death like smoking, cancer or car accidents.

    Note that although this analysis does consider risk of death for different ages, it does not differentiate between other factors such as comorbidities, ethnicity, demographics, etc.


    For a 25 to 34 year old, the chances of dying from COVID-19 in 1 lifetime is slightly LESS likely than dying from the flu, and about 7 times MORE likely than dying from the being struck by lightning.  For a 25 to 34 year old, COVID becomes the 15th leading cause of death.

    For a 35 to 44 year old, the chances of dying from COVID-19 in 1 lifetime is slightly GREATER than dying in an airplane crash. For a 35 to 44 year old, COVID becomes the 13th leading cause of death.

    For a 45 to 54 year old, the chances of dying from COVID-19 in 1 lifetime is a bit less than the chance of dying in a pedestrian accident. For a 45 to 54 year old, COVID becomes the 13th leading cause of death.

    For a 55 to 64 year old, the chances of dying from COVID-19 in 1 lifetime is a little less than the risk from death in a car accident. Think about all the car/pedestrian accidents that you have had (so far) in your life. Now double that. What are the chances that you would still be alive today? For a 55 to 64 year old, COVID becomes the 12th leading cause of death.

    For a 65 to 74 year old, the chances of dying from COVID-19 in 1 lifetime is the same risk as dying from falling. For a 65 to 74 year old, COVID becomes the 8th leading cause of death next to breast and prostate cancer.

    For a 75 to 84 year old, the chances of dying from COVID-19 in 1 lifetime will be the 7th largest cause of death – more likely than dying from either breast or prostate cancer.

    For a 85+ year old, the chances of dying from COVID-19 in 1 lifetime will be the 4th largest cause of death, more likely than dying of a stroke, obesity or drinking, and slightly less than a lifetime of smoking.


    1. The CDC death by age statistics I’m using are at about 750 deaths per day based on data from Oct 17, 2020. Deaths per day now are significantly higher at 2000 per day. Therefore, I adjusted my COVID deaths by age numbers up by 209%

    2. A huge assumption (and unknown) is how long this is going to last before heard immunity from both infections and vaccinations take over.

    Healthdata.org is forecasting 5500 deaths per day by Feb 1, then tapering down.¬†There is an assumption that vaccinations won’t be widely available until late summer, so I should expect the daily death count to continue to increase until recent revised social distancing measures and semi-lock-downs in various states start pumping the breaks. So based on previous growth curves, I’ll make the following (crude) projections of deaths per day for the next 9 months.

    Dec ave 3000 deaths per day
    Jan ave 4000 deaths per day
    Feb ave 5000 deaths per day
    March ave 3000 deaths per day
    April ave 2000 deaths per day
    May ave 1000 deaths per day
    June ave 750 deaths per day
    July ave 500 deaths per day
    Aug ave 250 deaths per day
    ———————Ave # deaths per day over next 9 months = 2166.
    I’ll be optimistic and round this down to 2000 per day.

    The key variable in this model is how many days the average death rate ends up at 2000 deaths per day. I think that average could range from 200 to 400 days, and who knows how long the tail will be (how many days or even YEARS trickles of deaths continue to add to this count?). I’ll be optimistic with this forecast and set 270 days (9 months) as the number of days that we measure an average of 2000 deaths per day. To review, I project 2000 deaths per day where we are now, then increasing to 5500 per day in a couple of months (as per healthdata.org projections), then gradually tapering down as warm summer weather moves us outdoors, and that precious vaccine becomes more available.


    If you are under 45, the risk of dying is low. However, if you are focused on your age group here, I think that is a mistake. True, you are not likely to die from COVID 19, but if you become infected by the virus, you could inadvertently infect others in your social group who are in more risky age groups. When you look at these age group statistics, you should consider the age group of the oldest person whom you would not want to kill (perhaps your parents? or your grand parents?).

    If I am wrong about the death rate projections, I’m probably not wrong by more than half. Even if I am wrong by half, COVID 19 still becomes one of the top leading causes of death in 1 life time. You have to consider how much we spend as a society on preventing car accidents, murders, cancer, smoking, etc. In my opinion, our current spend and measures we take to prevent additional deaths until a vaccine is available, is not out of line.

    Canada’s COVID 19 death rate is currently about 1/2 of the US death rate.


    Cause of death:

    US population by age:


    COVID 19 in Canada compared to USA:

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