Does COVID-19 have a 98 percent survival rate?

Health officials estimate more 99% of infected patients survive

Does COVID-19 have a 98 percent survival rate? Local 4's Dr. Frank McGeorge explains.

DETROIT – Health officials have confirmed the survival rate for people with the coronavirus (COVID-19) is high, but that’s no reason to relax safety measures that have been put in place.

One of the numbers that has been circulating on social media is that COVID-19 has a 98% or higher survival rate.

As of Wednesday, the number of cases in the United States was around 3,512,000 and the number of deaths was around 137,000. That would make the case fatality rate 3.9%, so based on confirmed cases, about 96% of people survive.

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But because of the significant number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic people with COVID-19, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention estimates the number of infected people could be 10 times the number of confirmed cases.

Using the current numbers, that means more than 30 million people could have been infected, which would make the infection fatality rate 0.4% -- meaning 99.6% of people survive the virus.

The problem is even a fatality rate of 0.4% can be crippling. If the virus was allowed to spread to everyone in the country, more than 1.3 million people would die.

In the meantime, with more than one in 1,000 leading to hospitalization, hospitals would be overwhelmed and there would be additional suffering.

Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge recommends exercising caution when seeing the survival rate numbers on social media.

While the survival rate is likely even higher than those estimations, simple math shows that unchecked spread would kill an unacceptable number of people and create a crushing burden on health care. That doesn’t even account for long-term consequences of infection.

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About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.