If someone elderly with blood clots and cancer treatment dies from respiratory distress, the federal government is generous about calling it a COVID-19 death. Even gunshot victims are considered COVID-19 related if they had tested positive for the virus in the last 30 days. Meanwhile, China has been denying that they have any at all since March, and no one can disprove them because they destroyed the records from the Wuhan lab where they were experimenting with SARS on pangolins and only recently let the World Health Organisation in to look at carefully curated records.

We don't have to rely on just-so stories from dictatorships to understand what is happening, a year into this we have data. A study found that many of the deaths in America deemed COVID-19 could be the same in other countries, if those countries declared those patient deaths related to the damage caused by the coronavirus rather than other complications. So the increased COVID-19 deaths here are not mislabeled, at least if we extrapolate from people with similar lung failure who died at the same hospital in years before COVID-19. The rate was ~100 higher. In the pre-COVID-19 period, 22 percent of people with lung failure died because of the lung damage while during COVID-19 it was 56 percent.

That also means a few dumb people who refuse to wear masks are not causing extraordinary deaths, other countries just label them a different way. Japan had few cases and few deaths from COVID-19 because they refused to worry about it. They had good mask uptake and treated it just like they did flu - and that works. 

"There was a lot of talk in the beginning of the pandemic that this was new, and that best supportive care principles already used in ICUs didn't hold true," says senior author Dr. Hallie Prescott, M.D., M.Sc., of Michigan Medicine. "But increasingly we realized that all the things we've learned in the past 20 years probably will save people with COVID-19, and that the more we learn about it, the more it seems consistent with ARDS in general. Therapies specific to the respiratory component of this disease will almost surely improve survival."

What was persistent before and after COVID-19, and something we need to be better about after last year's coronavirus is a memory? Sepsis.