Opinion

As COVID-19 Deaths Approach 200,000, Recoveries Continue to Soar

Written by Kirk Laughead

It seems like every day we get another dose of bad news on the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though cases and deaths have been in decline nationally since July, the mainstream media continues to raise alarms and stoke hysteria by creating the perception that cases and deaths are on the rise. There are doomsday scenarios that have the dreaded second wave of COVID-19 coinciding with the peak of the normal flu season, spawning yet another round of closures and quarantines.

In this barrage of bad news, there is a glimmer of hope. The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard reports that as of September 16, over 2.5 million Americans have recovered from the virus. Normally, something like this would be greeted with cheers. But there is no mention of this great milestone anywhere and no celebration at all. There has been almost a dark glee over the plethora of doomsday announcements that have dominated the headlines for the last week about how we are approaching the grim milestone of 200,000 nationwide deaths from COVID-19.

All of the focus seems to be on sickness and death and we haven’t been given even a moment to stop and give thanks for all of the folks that have faced COVID-19 and survived. I’m sure there are a lot of people that are very grateful they didn’t lose their father, grandmother, or friend. I want to know why we are not hearing about this great news. Can it be so unimportant so as to not merit even the most fleeting mention in the mainstream media? It feels like there is a total blackout preventing even the tiniest glimmer of good news from escaping into the public realm where it might warm our hearts just a little bit.

Normally, 2.5 million people still being alive after having COVID-19 would be an impressive number. But 2.5 million recovered out of 6.6 million recorded cases only registers a paltry 38% reported recovery rate. As a comparison, India has a reported recovery rate of 78.5% with nearly four million recovered out of five million recorded cases. Brazil reports an 87% recovery rate with 3.8 million recovered out of 4.4 million cases. Both India and Brazil didn’t even reach one million confirmed cases until well after the United States was well past it.

How can it be that India and Brazil—with well under the number of cases the United States—are each already showing more recovered cases than we show. Are either India or Brazil more technologically advanced? Are their healthcare systems superior to ours? Do they have greater resources to apply to the challenge? Even combined, they don’t come close to the advantages the United States has in combating COVID-19, both technologically and financially.

The only real difference is that they are actually reporting their recovered numbers—and they’re not alone. The United States’ paltry 38% reported recovery rate ranks a dismal 88th out of the top 100 countries with the highest case counts. Of the remaining countries, over 80 report a recovered rate greater than 50%. Of those, 50 countries are reporting recovery rates of 80% or greater. There are 21 countries that are reporting greater than 90% recovered.

The U.S. reported recovery rate has been stalled at or below 38% since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s compared to the world average of 72% reported recovery rate. How can our recovery rate rank so poorly in comparison to so many other countries? Many of those that ranked higher are underdeveloped nations that had experienced higher cases and death rates per capita, and have nowhere near the U.S. level of technology, resources, and expertise.

The reason the U.S. reported recovery rates are so low is very simple. These very important metrics are being reported very poorly in many states, and in some instances, are not being reported at all. Only 28 states have reported greater than 50% recovery rates. Of the 22 remaining states, only four are reporting recovery rates over 25% and six states (California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington) are not reporting any recovery statistics at all.

If we apply the global average recovery rate of 72% to those six states, they would have reported over 1.5 million combined recovered cases. If we applied that same 72% global average over all of the states, instead of 2.5 million currently showing as recovered, we would show 4.7 million recovered. Every death is tragic and this is not to discount the nearly 200,000 people that have succumbed to this dreadful virus, but having 4.7 million survivors is an important number that should be acknowledged.

Why does this matter? Because mindset is everything. We are being conditioned to fear this disease and to only see the suffering and death. We are not being allowed to see the people that have recovered because that might give us the impression that COVID-19 is survivable. It might give us hope by providing that light at the end of the tunnel that we need so badly right now. It is a shared victory that should inspire hope by showing that in spite of the severity of the virus, people are surviving it.

But these numbers are also very relevant in the public debate since opinions are shaped, decisions are made, and policies are formulated based on this data. These policies drive very important decisions like reopening businesses, having students on campus at schools, and allowing people to visit family members that may be languishing and slipping away in long term care facilities. When we have issues that call the data into question, it also brings into question the policies and decisions that are informed by that data. We are told to believe and trust the science. Now, we see how fundamentally flawed that science can be.

We are being told to put our lives on hold as we are primed and groomed for a vaccine that may never arrive, and are being told we can’t attain herd immunity without it. Over 4.7 million people having survived COVID-19 is a good foundation stone for a wall of immunity. The others that may have had it and recovered are also part of that immunity wall. We need to stop dwelling on the illness and death and start assessing the level of immunity that exists independently of the official statistics that are really only based on those that have officially presented at a treatment facility or tested positive.

We need to know how many have had COVID-19 and recovered. We must begin to accept that those individuals that have been infected and recovered, whether they were symptomatic or not, are inherently immune to this virus or are at very little risk from it in the future. The media needs to stop sewing doubts and magnifying the negative of the bad things that can happen and the catastrophes that await us. We need to stop this assault on hope and begin to envision a world where we can get as back to normal as is practical.

It doesn’t surprise me that this has not yet been covered. At times it feels more like the media is complicit in promoting the hysteria rather than ensuring that the information we are being provided is not only accurate, but complete. We need to demand that these data are collected, recorded, and reported accurately because it’s the only thing that gives us a common frame of reference to discuss and debate the severity of the situation, the feasibility of the solutions, how successful we are in fighting COVID-19, and ultimately overcoming it.