ER doctors urge public to calm down, say coronavirus death rate is overhyped

Dr. Jeremy Samuel Faust coronavirus
Harvard physician Dr. Jeremy Faust says everyone should calm down amid the media hype about the coronavirus. Faust says the virus is not as deadly as feared, so the current hysteria is not warranted. (Images: Pixabay/Twitter)

An emergency-room physician who’s an instructor at Harvard Medical School says the media hysteria about the coronavirus has fueled mass public panic.

Dr. Jeremy Faust says everyone should calm down because the coronavirus is far less deadly than many fear, and will generally not harm non-geriatric individuals who are otherwise healthy.

Dr. Faust says the death rate for the coronavirus is less than 1% — significantly lower than the 3.4% touted by the World Health Organization.

In a Slate column titled “COVID-19 Isn’t As Deadly As We Think,” Dr. Faust wrote:

“Allow me to be the bearer of good news. The true case fatality rate of this virus is likely to be far lower than current reports suggest.

Even some lower estimates, such as the 1 percent death rate recently mentioned by the directors of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, likely substantially overstate the case.

This all suggests that COVID-19 is a relatively benign disease for most young people, and a potentially devastating one for the old and chronically ill, albeit not nearly as risky as reported.”

Dr. Faust said it’s typical for mortality rates to be inflated because that’s what happened with past epidemics. Faust said the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship indicates that the suggested fatalities from coronavirus are exaggerated.

“A quarantined boat is an ideal—if unfortunate—natural laboratory to study a virus. Of the 3,711 people on board, at least 705 have tested positive for the virus (which, considering the confines, conditions, and how contagious this virus appears to be, is surprisingly low).

Of those, more than half are asymptomatic, while very few asymptomatic people were detected in China. This alone suggests a halving of the virus’s true fatality rate.

On the Diamond Princess, six deaths have occurred among the passengers, constituting a case fatality rate of 0.85 percent…all six fatalities occurred in patients who are more than 70 years old. Not a single Diamond Princess patient under age 70 has died.

Healthy people who are hoarding food, masks, and hand sanitizer may feel like they are doing the right thing. But, all good intentions aside, these actions probably represent misdirected anxieties.”

Dr. Jeremy Faust said people should wash their hands and exercise the same precautions they would take to not catch a cold, but worrying pathologically about the coronavirus is not warranted.

Faust echoed the sentiments of Dr. James Phillips, an emergency-room physician and assistant professor at George Washington University Medical School.

Dr. Phillips told Fox News anchor Ed Henry that “most of us are going to get” coronavirus, but it’s not going to kill us or even do much harm.

Phillips said most medical experts agree that the coronavirus cannot be contained. However, Dr. Phillips said 98% to 99% of people won’t be harmed by the virus.

“You won’t find a single expert out there who’s saying this is going to be contained,” Phillips said. “The data that we know from China shows that roughly 98 to 99 percent of us are going to do very, very well.”

(Video: Fox News)

Ed Henry followed up by saying: “You’re giving a hopeful message, but you said something about ‘most of us are going to get it.’ That alarms some people.”

Dr. Phillips replied: “Most of us, including myself, are likely to get this virus and do fine.”

He explained that coronavirus, like pneumonia, is “a lower-respiratory illness, as opposed to most colds that cause upper-respiratory infections.”

Phillips said the people that are most vulnerable to the coronavirus are the same people who are at high risk when they catch pneumonia (i.e., senior citizens with impaired immune systems).

Dr. Phillips said while everyone should exercise proper precautions like washing their hands, there’s no need for panic. “Everyone should take a deep breath [and calm down],” he exhorted.

Flashback: Obama waited until millions were infected with swine flu before acting


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