• Glenn Wilson
    I have sometimes been accused on social media of 'scare tactics' and asked 'Why don't you post the statistics on how many survive?' I've seen 'The vast majority of people don't get Covid or that the vast majority of people that do get Covid, survive.'

    Why don't I post the statistics on how many survive? Ok, let's do that. What are the odds of surviving Covid?

    Have you ever rolled an eleven? Image: Ella's Dad CC 2.0

    From the Coronavirus Dashboard January 21, 2021: SMA: 116 deaths, 1,983 confirmed cases, 1,653 recovered.
    1653 recovered / 1983 confirmed cases equals 83.35% of people with confirmed cases of Coronavirus in SMA have survived, so far.

    Hey, 83% is the vast majority. The vast majority of people with confirmed cases of Coronavirus in SMA survived!

    That is as good as your chance of rolling two dice and NOT getting a total of seven (100% - 16.7% = 83.33%).

    Die Roll Probabilities

    That is not entirely fair or accurate. The official SMA statistics overstate the odds of dying because SMA misses a lot of cases of Coronavirus in their official statistics.

    For more accurate statistics, let's look at the US CDC.

    They break out Infection Fatality Ratio stats by age group. "Infection Fatality Ratio (IFR): The number of individuals who die of the disease among all infected individuals (symptomatic and asymptomatic)."

    I think the readership of SMAFAQ tends towards older people so we'll look at the 70 and over age group. According to the CDC, the Current Best Estimate as of Sept 10, 2020 of the Covid Infection Fatality Ratio for people 70 and older is 0.054 or 5.4%.


    That's a 5.4% chance of dying of Covid, on average, if they become infected. In other words, according to the CDC, people that are 70 and over have a 94.6% chance of survival if infected.

    A 94.6% chance is about the same as NOT rolling a total of 11 on two dice. You've never rolled an eleven, have you?

    Getting diagnosed with Covid or getting a positive Covid test is far from being a death sentence. The vast majority do survive. But it is, in my opinion, something to take seriously and worth taking some effort to avoid. My life and the lives of my loved ones are not something I would want to risk on a roll of the dice.

    If you must go out wear a mask and avoid the three c's: closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.

    Any individual's actual odds of surviving Covid-19 will vary with many factors.

    More in the category Health and Medical.

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  • Glenn Wilson
    A few clarifications:
    The calculations presented are meant to be illustrative -- my intended point is not any specific numbers or any specific method to calculate the "statistics on how many survive." The chance of death is a large enough number in the most vulnerable age groups (which includes many SMAFAQ readers or their loved ones), that many will die even though "the vast majority survive."

    I used a dice analogy to describe the numbers with a real world activity that some could relate to.

    Death is not the only negative impact of Covid-19. Illness, 'Long Covid' and other long term effects are among the other possible consequences of Covid-19.

    Regarding "The official SMA statistics overstate the odds of dying because SMA misses a lot of cases of Coronavirus in their official statistics." This is not a flaw or error in these numbers. This is by design. Mexico uses the Sentinel Surveillance model for Coronavirus and captures only a small percentage of all Coronavirus infections in their results. For more on this please see: Understanding Mexico's Covid Statistics, and, Methodology for Calculating Estimated Active Cases of Covid for SMA.

    I don't have Covid statistics (deaths, cases, IFR) specific to Mexico broken out by ages so I used what I am aware of which is the US CDC IFR estimates by age. I only did the calculation for the oldest age group (70+) in the CDC stats in the post but the full table with all of the age ranges is included above. For more on the mortality across multiple age ranges please see: "Vaccinate the 20% of the country that represent 95% of the deaths"

    Feedback is welcome. Leave a comment or email me at .
  • Jonathan Brown
    Glenn - What you are missing is the key piece of data about mortality - as we age the odds of dying increase almost exponentially with or without covid that comes in part from diseases which are a function of aging (more incidence of cancer and heart disease for example). Carnegie Mellon University did a project which quantified the risks of dying based on lifestyle and age. Their researchers found that "A 20-year-old U.S. woman has a 1 in 2,000 (or 0.05 percent) chance of dying in the next year, for example. By age 40, the risk is three times greater; by age 60, it is 16 times greater; and by age 80, it is 100 times greater (around 1 in 20 or 5 percent).

    "The risks are higher, but still not that bad," Gerard said. "At 80, the average U.S. woman still has a 95 percent chance of making it to her 81st birthday."

    (the CMU site is at https://www.livescience.com/9707-death-calculator-predicts-odds-kicking-bucket.html) So the point is that even without covid older people have a higher risk of dying BUT that risk even with COVID is pretty small AND with reasonable prudence those numbers diminish even more. Just like if you smoke you increase your odds of dying geometrically not observing reasonable things like social distancing, hand washing, and masks in public increases your risks. What bothers me is that so many people here are obsessed with the issues here. As my doctor told me last March - calm down.
  • Patrice Wynne
    Statistics are only part of the story. The issue for many is the dread of the PROCESS of death by Covid often without loved ones able to be nearby or hold your hand or stroke your face. If you’ve ever died with a family member where all of these things are possible, dying can actually be a beautiful, loving and memorable experience to share with the dying and your family. Dying by Covid is horrid, whether it’s a 5% chance of a .005 chance.
  • Glenn Wilson
    (The link to the actual Death Risk site from the article you linked appears to have, .... died -- at least for me -- http://www.deathriskrankings.com/)

    Yes, people die. Even before there was Covid, people died. Older people were more likely to die than younger people, in general.

    Figure 3. Age-specific death rates for ages 15 years and over: United States, 2017 and 2018 Source: CDC.

    In the long run, with or without Covid, the chance of dying is 100% and the chance of surviving life is 0%.

    The question is how much does contracting Covid change the chance of dying of Covid? Or, the question at the top of the post:

    What are the odds of surviving Covid?

    Jonathan Brown: "So the point is that even without covid older people have a higher risk of dying BUT that risk even with COVID is pretty small AND with reasonable prudence those numbers diminish even more."

    'Pretty small' if 5.4% from Covid is 'pretty small.' 5.4% being the CDC IFR for people age 70 and over. Again, from the CDC, "Infection Fatality Ratio (IFR): The number of individuals who die of the disease among all infected individuals (symptomatic and asymptomatic)."

    Excess mortality studies have shown additional mortality and Covid deaths in the US have had a measurable impact on the overall life expectancy: Coronavirus will knock more than a year off average US life expectancy, study finds.

    If your point is that not everyone 70 and older will contract Covid so the overall impact for that group is less than 5.4%. Yes, of course, that is true. If one can avoid contracting Covid then their chance of dying of Covid drops to 0%.

    The issue then is, and this is straying from the original topic, what are appropriate steps for an individual and for a community to help prevent people from becoming infected? I have generally avoided expressing views on public health policy. I have advocated that people take steps personally like wearing masks, distancing, etc. (Which seems to align with what you said).

    Jonathan Brown: "As my doctor told me last March - calm down." Good advice. :smile:
  • Tom Hammer
    Thank you, Glenn, for the wonderful article and your constant struggle for clarity and science and your generous responses to us readers! I think the one thing that needs emphasis is that Covid is not binary. It is not simply "survive or not." There are unfortunately many long-term effects other than death. I don't know if it is possible to quantify them yet, but they include brain fog, memory losses, heart and lung damage, and damage to other major organs. Rarely, people lose a limb. I think other extremely negative options need to be emphasized as well in discussions of Covid.
  • Glenn Wilson
    Thanks and . I agree, it is more than statistics and it is not just binary "survive or not."
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