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Passion seems appropriate to this discussion, because we are living at a historic moment, when the young are threatened with paying an appalling price to preserve some hundreds of thousands of us oldies, overwhelmingly the likeliest victims of coronavirus, from a slightly premature but inevitable extinction. One of my wife’s favourite observations is that “none of us is going to get out of this alive”, and never has this seemed more obvious.

I read the above paragraph in this article. What I'm not sure is the meaning of 'from a slightly premature but inevitable extinction'. My understanding of this is that the young are trying hard to protect the oldies from premature death. Everyone, however, is going to leave this world, which is inevitable.

Is my understanding right? Thank you in advance.

2 Answers 2

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You are correct.

The author is also (perhaps jokingly) saying that the death would be "slightly" premature, implying that that older persons are usually closer to death in general.

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when the young are threatened with paying an appalling price to preserve some hundreds of thousands of us oldies, overwhelmingly the likeliest victims of coronavirus, from a slightly premature but inevitable extinction.

This means

when the young may have to suffer an economic collapse so that old people won't have to die earlier than they would naturally, if the virus didn't exist.

The specific phrase

from a slightly premature but inevitable extinction

means that old people will die (inevitable extinction), and if they die by the virus, that death will be sooner than if it happened by other natural causes (slightly premature).

The paragraph isn't saying that the young are trying hard to keep the old people from dying, but that society is trying to keep the old from dying, and that is costing the young, in terms of the economic collapse.

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