DISINFO: It is too early to tell whether any extra people will die because of COVID-19
It is definitely too early to accurately gauge how many – if any – extra people will die because of coronavirus. It is hard to believe that when this all blows over, the damage that will have been done by the shutdown measures – to businesses, to civil liberties, to individual lives and, of course, to the global economy – could have been for nothing. Nonetheless, it seems entirely possible based on the present data.
This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation attempt to downplay the severity and urgency of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Pro-Kremlin media have spread a variety of false claims to push this message, for example that coronavirus mortality figures are insignificant, that COVID-19 is fake and a political move to install hegemony, and that the virus is safe. The novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, belongs to a family of viruses originating in animals that includes others such as SARS and MERS. It was first reported in the city of Wuhan in central China in late 2019 and has been rapidly spreading across the world, with cases being reported in 190 countries, territories and areas. The number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed 777,000 globally with over 37,000 deaths as of 31 March 2020. There are major challenges associated with accurately calculating the COVID-19 death rate, including insufficient data about the denominator (i.e., the number of people who are infected with the virus). Currently, the research consensus indicates that COVID-19 is less deadly than SARS (9.5% mortality) but more deadly than influenza (0.1% mortality). However, the death rate aside, the major concern with the COVID-19 pandemic is its potential to overwhelm national healthcare systems, resulting in even more deaths because patients cannot receive treatment as hospitals exceed capacity. Thus, flattening the curve and limiting the spread of the virus - which is highly transmittable - is recommended as an essential precautionary measure by international health authorities, including the WHO.