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COVID: 800,000 dead, soon to be 1 million. Who have we become?

In a letter published in Seacoast Media online, Fosters and the Union Leader, virologist Walter King laments a comparison of the death toll from COVID to that in America's wars.

This last week, our country’s COVID-19 death toll exceeded 800,000, a number that could reach one million this winter.

Currently, COVID has claimed 1 out of every 100 seniors over the age of 65.

From another perspective, the costliest war in US history was the Civil War, where over 620,000 died. The number of US deaths in other wars (WWII, WW I, Vietnam War, Korean War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Iraq-Afghanistan, Spanish-American, and the Gulf War), amounts to 684,253.

These were patriotic Americans who gave their lives to protect our way of life. We have honored them with memorials and have set aside a national holiday so that our nation will never forget.

So why are these COVID deaths only thought of as a statistic? In November, the VA reported that 16,800 veterans have died from COVID in just VA hospitals and medical centers. I am deeply saddened that some of us seem to accept these 821,335 COVID deaths as the price we are willing to pay for personal choice.

What does it say about us when we are willing to fight side by side against threats to our country but are not willing to fight to keep more Americans from dying against an invisible threat? Is this reflective of a change in our American values?

Does personal choice dishonor the war deaths of hundreds of thousands of our nation’s finest? I hope not, for that portends the end to the America I know.


About the author:

Walter is a retired research and development executive who worked at several leading global healthcare companies including GE Healthcare, Whatman and Abbott Diagnostics. He developed FDA-cleared products for several cancer and prenatal genetic diseases as well as infectious diseases. He is an emeritus member of the American Association for Cancer Research. He completed his college and graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago respectively and completed his postdoctoral studies at the Columbia University Medical Center. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Health Care Voices of New Hampshire and the City of Dover Energy Commission. He chairs Strafford County Democrats, is a member of Dover Democrats and serves on its Executive Committee.

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