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Fact check: You are not more likely to die from the common cold than COVID-19

A social media post claims that one is more likely to die of the common cold than COVID-19. This is not true.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The post reads: “I literally cannot deal with this corona virus BULLSHIT any more!!!! We are wasting our life for the fact that we could POTENTIALLY die from this virus yet there is more chance of dying from the common cold which WE ALL GET at some point !!” (here) .

According to a team of global health scientists and infection preventionists at the Meedan Digital Health Lab, a public health information hub that distills complex health and medical science, even though the vast majority of COVID-19 patients only experience mild or no symptoms, it is far more lethal than the common cold (here) .

“The common cold is generally not lethal, with some rare exceptions”, the Digital Health Lab explains. “The flu, which is deadlier than the common cold, killed 0.1% of the people who contracted it in 2019. It is still too early to discern accurate global death estimates for people who have contracted COVID-19, but estimates have ranged from 1% to 25% of all cases, depending on the country”.

The experts argue that a conservative death rate of 1% would therefore make COVID-19 at least 10 times as deadly as the flu, and therefore “significantly more lethal” than the common cold.

So far, there have been more than 900,000 deaths caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 30 million confirmed cases worldwide (covid19.who.int/) .

Peter Barlow, professor of immunology and infection at Edinburgh Napier University, pointed out that the number of common colds a person catches each year indicates it has a lower mortality rate than COVID-19.

“Adults on average get a “common cold” about 3-4 times a year, kids get it anywhere between 6-10 times”, Barlow said.

Barlow said since over 50% of common colds are causes by a rhinovirus, if it had a similar or higher mortality rate as SARS-CoV-2 and caused multiple infections per year, there would be a “massive mortality” associated with the common cold. This, he concludes, is something “clearly we don’t see”. SARS-CoV-2 is the new coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19.

VERDICT

False. You are not more likely to die of the common cold than COVID-19.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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