In my online echo chambers and news bubbles it seems that a lot of effort worldwide is spent on obtaining more ventilators and increasing ICU capacity. Given that 75% (edit: this value might be too high; 50% might be closer to the truth, according to a comment below) of patients on ventilators die anyway, a single patient occupies an ICU bed for weeks, and that most of the dead are old or have serious pre-existing conditions, I wonder how much good that does.

I strongly suspect that more is spent on those efforts than they are worth because the reports or overwhelmed ICU units are so visually and emotionally captivating. But I'm too lazy to look up the numbers (and the QALY estimate would probably require some original modelling, which I have no experience with).

Related fun fact: Americans spend disproportionately more money on healthcare in their final years. This study: (I haven't checked whether it's been reproduced) suggests 18-25%, depending on the source of funding. It's not as ridiculous as it sounds, though, because you don't know in advance which year is going to be the final one.

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From what I have seen, ICU patients are less focused in the elderly than deaths are. The chance of winding up in the ICU for a 30 year old appears to be 1.5+ %. I doubt that leaves the lungs unscathed, or with the same vulnerability to future insults.


Thank you so much for this! This not only helps answer my question but is an important datapoint while I'm deciding whether to increase my risk of infection.

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I believe your 75% death ratio is incorrect. I assume you base it on this Wuhan report. There is more recent report that says it might be ~50%.

It does not change your conclusions much though.