Although it’s almost been 12 months since the COVID 19 outbreak, there was a time when the alarming increase in cases stopped scaring everyone. By August, everyone was tired of all the virtual interaction and parties, get-togethers and crowded public spaces and we all tried getting back to ‘normal life’.
Eventually, a meme started circulating on social media which claimed that ‘almost 99% of people were recovering from covid’ and while this has been fact-checked by multiple health officials, people continued to believe this ‘fake news’. However, this is what you need to know about the claim that ‘99% of people survive covid’-
Where did this claim originate from?
Back when US’s COVID 19 cases were increasing at an alarming rate and former president Trump was not taking enough measures to control the spread, his comment about the survival rate of COVID misled a lot of people.
Likewise, testing — there were no tests for a new virus, but now we have tested over 40 million people. But by so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless. Results that no other country will show, because no other country has testing that we have — not in terms of the numbers or in terms of the quality.
His remarks about a virus that has till date claimed the lives of 2.36M people worldwide have been critiqued for being insensitive, misleading more importantly- not true. In fact, even with 3 vaccines currently in the round, COVID is still continuing to rampantly spread with even newer variants coming into the picture.
Even Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told Fox News on April 9 that ‘98% of people infected with the new coronavirus are going to recover.’.
Another ‘statement’ that was making the rounds was regarding the mortality rate of this virus. Since people are claiming that ‘99% people survive covid’ , they naturally started making assumptions about it’s mortality rate, which refers to the frequency of occurrence of death in a given population in a certain time period, stating that it is only 1%.
What does a 1% mortality rate mean?
While the exact mortality rate of this disease is not yet known, the ‘1%’ figure seems to originate from the claim that the virus that ‘99% survive covid’. While this may seem promising and even hopeful to some, what we fail to consider is the scale at which this ‘1%’ is being calculated.
Even with lockdown restrictions, vaccines and healthcare workers working overtime to control the spread of the infections, over 2.36 million people have lost their battle to COVID worldwide.
Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified to Congress in March that the mortality rate may be as low as 1% and commented that this seemingly small number, in reality is a very dire figure.
He commented- “A 1% mortality rate means it is 10-times more lethal than the seasonal flu, I think that’s something people can get their arms around and understand. A 99% survival rate might sound promising. But when it’s scaled out to the rest of the country (America) – all 329 million residents – a 1% survival rate takes on a different meaning.”
What does the mortality rate depend on?
While health official shave yet to come up with an official mortality rate, a lot of factors like ‘from the level of strain on the health care system to an infected person's health history and age’ significantly affect this rate.
Dr Theos tells USA Today- “You really need to look at this by age because there is an enormous age gradient for risk of death per infected case.”
So, how true is the claim?
So while the claim that the mortality rate of covid is 1% may be correct to some extent, the context in which it is being said needs to be understood. When this 1% is put against millions of people, the number of people who get infected and die is still A LOT.
Like mentioned before, the mortality rate is not a constant figure. It depends on the infected persons' health condition, the severity of infections and many other factors that are rarely tangible. A blanket statement claiming that the 99% survive the virus is extremely misleading, false and more importantly, completely untrue.
As USA Today reported - “There are too many factors that affect the outcome if people are infected with the new coronavirus to make a blanket statement about mortality rates. A person’s age or underlying health conditions, and if there’s capacity in the health care system for proper care are key among them. Further, too little is known about the disease, including the true reach of its spread.”