Think 99.6% Survival Rate is OK?

Here’s why it isn’t.

Frank Parker


On British television last night they showed a clip of a woman somewhere in the USA who was most indignant about the need to wear a face mask. “Do you realise this disease has a 99.6% survival rate?” she asked the reporter.

I want to ask her does she realise what a 99.6% survival rate means?

I want to ask her to think about the people she knows: her uncles, her aunts, her cousins, the people who live on her street, the shop-keepers in her neighborhood, the people who attend her church, her work colleagues.

I’m thinking she would have little difficulty in counting up to 250 people to whom she is related or who she encounters on a frequent basis.

What a 99.6% survival rate means is that, if all of them get the disease, one of them will die.

But for every one that dies up to 10 will have to spend several days or weeks in hospital suffering respiratory problems. A few of those will spend days or weeks on a ventilator. An extremely distressing state of affairs for them and for those who love them.

And, in a country lacking universal healthcare, having a serious impact on their financial health also.

Is she so selfish as to not care that, because of her failure to take simple precautions, ten of the people she knows will end up in hospital, maybe five of them on a ventilator, and one of them will die?

For someone who lives in a town of 10,000 people, a 99.6% survival rate means that, if they all get the disease, 40 will die. In a city of 250,000, 1,000 will die, 10,000 will be hospitalized.

Before I finish, I need to add that there is a terrible irony about this clip being carried on British television. You see, in the USA the proportion of the population who say they regularly wear a mask when in public spaces is over 70%. In England it is half that.

The smugness of the British media in the circumstances is beyond hypocrisy.



Frank Parker

Frank is a retired Engineer from England now living in Ireland. He is trying to learn and share the lessons of history.