Fully referenced facts about covid-19, provided by experts in the field, to help our readers make a realistic risk assessment.
“The only means to fight the plague is honesty.” (Albert Camus, 1947)
- Lethality: According to the latest immunological studies, the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) of covid-19 in the general population is about 0.1% to 0.5% in most countries, which is most closely comparable to the medium influenza pandemics of 1957 and 1968.
- Treatment: For people at high risk or high exposure, early or prophylactic treatment is essential to prevent progression of the disease. According to numerous international studies, early outpatient treatment of covid may reduce hospitalizations and deaths by about 80%.
- Age profile: The median age of covid deaths is over 80 years in most Western countries (but 78 in the US) and only about 5% of the deceased had no serious preconditions. The age and risk profile of covid mortality is therefore comparable to normal mortality, but increases it proportionally.
- Nursing homes: In many Western countries, up to two thirds of all covid deaths have occurred in nursing homes, which require targeted and humane protection. In some cases, care home residents died not from the coronavirus, but from weeks of stress and isolation.
- Excess mortality: In most Western countries, the pandemic increased mortality by 5% to 15% in 2020. Up to 30% of the additional deaths were caused not by covid, but by indirect effects of the pandemic and lockdowns (e.g. fewer treatments of cancer and heart attack patients).
- Antibodies: By the end of 2020, antibody seroprevalence was between 10% and 30% of the population in most Western countries. At seroprevalence levels above 30%, a significant decrease in the infection rate was observed in many regions.
- Symptoms: Up to 40% of all infected persons show no symptoms. Overall, about 95% of all people develop at most mild or moderate symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Early outpatient treatment may further reduce hospitalizations.
- Long covid: About 10% of symptomatic people experience post-acute or long covid, i.e. symptoms or exhaustion that may last for several weeks or months. Long covid also affects younger and previously healthy people whose initial coronavirus disease was rather mild.
- Transmission: According to current knowledge, the main routes of transmission of the virus are indoor aerosols and droplets produced when speaking or coughing, while outdoor aerosols as well as most object surfaces appear to play a minor role. The coronavirus season in the northern hemisphere generally lasts from about November to April.
- Masks: There is still little to no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks in the general population, and the introduction of mandatory masks couldn’t contain or slow the epidemic in most countries. If used improperly, masks may increase the risk of infection.