Forget the blethering of Jonathan Sumption on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning about the distinction between dying “with” and “of” Covid – the most interesting feature of Amol Rajan’s interview with the former Supreme Court judge was the BBC presenter’s interjection in response: “That’s quite a precious thing to have that year of life taken from you by a respiratory virus.”
I wonder whether Rajan would have used the same form of words pre-pandemic to describe the mortality rates produced by the dozens of respiratory viruses that circulate every year. According to the CDC in America, pneumococcal pneumonia causes 150,000 hospitalisations annually in the States. It has a fatality rate of 5-7%. In elderly and vulnerable populations it may be far higher.