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How much 'normal' risk does COVID-19 represent?

Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication

News - How much 'normal' risk does COVID-19 represent?

Risk from COVID-19

David Spiegelhalter puts the COVID-19 risk in perspective:

It’s always useful to remember that we’re all going to die sometime, and the rate at which we do so is faithfully recorded in the life tables provided by the Office For National Statistics. The recent report by researchers from Imperial College London provided estimates of the age-specific risks of dying following infection with coronavirus. This suggests that COVID-19 very roughly contributes a year’s worth of risk.

Every year around 600,000 people die in the UK. The Imperial College team estimates that if the virus went completely unchallenged, around 80% of people would be infected and there would be around 510,000 deaths.

So, roughly speaking, we might say that getting COVID-19 is like packing a year’s worth of risk into a week or two. Which is why it’s important to spread out the infections to avoid the NHS being overwhelmed.