Can we please be honest about COVID-19 fatality rates?

There are many people who want COVID-19 fatality rates to be higher than they are. We know this because they become enraged at any discussion of statistical data of COVID-19 fatality rates, even from the Centers for Disease Control. Why would anyone want the virus to be more deadly? Why is actual statistical data from public health professionals so offensive? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Here are the facts: According to the CDC, people under 50 have a 99.95% chance of surviving the virus. Where the disease is especially dangerous for people over the age of 70, and that danger increases significantly with age. Someone who is 85 is at an even greater risk, especially if that person has complicating health issues such as obesity, a compromised immune system, diabetes, high blood pressure or pre-existing breathing problems. And despite the rhetoric of COVID-19 fearmongers, citing the survival rate for everyone under 50 does not imply (much less state outright) that the lives of people over 50 do not matter.

In fact, it is misleading to talk about the overall survival rate at all. The fact is that there is no single COVID-19 survival rate. There are multiple survival rates based on age and associated risk factor. The CDC reported in September 2020 (before thee vaccines were available) that the survival rate for those under 50 is 99.98% and the survival rate for those under 19 is 99.997%.

Furthermore, a significant percentage of COVID-19 cases are mild or asymptomatic. This means a large number of COVID-19 cases go unreported. And despite the memes on the Right about “a virus so dangerous you may never know you had it,” that is actually what makes it so dangerous. Someone could be infected, not know it and never develop symptoms, and then pass it on to someone much more vulnerable to it.

So, should we take this thing seriously? Absolutely yes. I know people who have had it and were very sick, including some who were hospitalized. I have been fully vaccinated since mid-May, after getting the second dose of my vaccine in April. But distorting the numbers actually makes pandemic mitigation more difficult because it breeds distrust. Pretending the virus is more deadly than it is damages credibility at a time when we need our public health authorities to be both trusted and trustworthy.

Sadly, even analyzing statistical data is secondary to a culture war agenda, and that culture war is much more destructive to our nation long-term than the Communist Virus.