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Coronavirus myths busted: Mortality rate, symptoms, even virus traits have been misrepresented



What you have been told to believe about coronavirus is, in most cases, just plain wrong.


Whether intentionally, hysterically or mistakenly, many media outlets have run with stories that do not reflect accuracy about the worldwide pandemic. It can be a deadly disease for the elderly with compromised immune systems. It can have serious consequences for some otherwise healthy people.


But fearmongering and panic has set in, contributing to the spread of misinformation.


Myth #1. Coronavirus has a 2-3% mortality rate.

No, it does not. Even ABC News "expert" Sanjay Gupta got this wrong. That number comes from the Chinese Wuhan data. The problem with their data is that it represents those people who were tested for the disease once they were sick, versus total deaths. That is not how a mortality rate is calculated. The correct method uses the number of all that have contracted the disease as the denominator.


Outside of Wuhan, where there has been wider testing of most that had contracted the disease, mortality has been pegged at 0.4 percent based on a report published by the Chinese CDC.


This is how mortality rate is actually figured. (Illustration: ACV Reports)


Mortality on the Princess Cruise off the coast of Japan — the first place that it was certain all exposed were tested — was 0.85 percent and only those over 70 died. In South Korea, which has tested more than 100,000 people, the case fatality rate is 0.65 percent. Our public health bureaucracies are said to be looking into what South Korea is doing to contain the disease, and the answer is likely to be that the math is more accurate, nothing more.


The mortality rate for influenza varies by type and immunization effectiveness, but mortality among those 75 years and older is much higher than for the young and is over 1 percent. So we have mortality rates that are pretty close here.


The statement that in the elderly the coronavirus is about as deadly as the flu is more accurate. You could also say that it’s harder to treat than the flu and that more middle-aged people need intensive care and that these needs can quickly overwhelm health systems.


Myth #2: Coronavirus is aerosolized and the flu is not, hence the spread of this disease is much more than the flu.

This is utter nonsense. The flu virus is also aerosolized which is the primary way it’s spread.


Myth #3: The coronavirus will ramp up in the US over the next few months and by summer we will become China, a country on lockdown with millions of cases and our health system will crash.

Blogger Liz Specht gets a razzberry for getting this one out there. She claimed by May we would have some 5.4 million cases in the U.S. according to her own pandemic math. The problem is that Liz isn’t a physician, so she seems to have missed the graph put out by the CDC.


Because COVID-19 thrives in the same kind of cold-weather environment as the flu, it will probably run its course by the end of this month. (Illustration: CDC)


The peak months of U.S. viral flu transmission (which this virus will follow as well as it’s primary spread is aerosolization through coughing) are December through March. This is because the survival of viruses in water droplets falls off the map when the temps heat up. Note that in the 36 years graphed here (1982-2018) we have never had a flu peak in April or May. The graph for other viruses looks similar.


Hence, while the spread of the virus may well be somewhat contained by testing and quarantine — unprecedented in the US at this scale — the facts of nature will be the true rate-limiting step in the U.S. pandemic math since warmer weather reduces viral spread.


Myth #4: If you have the symptoms of the common cold, your probably have COVID-19.

I heard this one on a local radio station. It's rubbish.


The main symptoms of COVID-19 are not the sniffles or a runny nose or sneezing. The main symptoms are a fever and a dry cough with or without shortness of breath, as depicted in another CDC graph.


There are significant differences among the three cold-weather diseases going around this year. (Illustration: CDC, WHO)


The coronavirus misinformation machine continues to spin out of control. You can’t turn around without hearing a factoid from usually credible sources that can be easily debunked.


So listen to the CDC and get yourself tested if you have symptoms. Observe strict quarantine protocols if you test positive. If you’re sick and unsure, just stay home. In the meantime, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer,,cover your sneezes and coughs, take a deep breath, and relax.

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