FALSE: 99% of people recover from COVID-19 – Trump

At a glance:
  • Claim: 99% of people recover from COVID-19.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: As of October 23, the case recovery rate in the US was at 39.88%, while the global case recovery rate was at 67.97%, based on the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine COVID-19 dashboard.
  • Why we fact-checked this: US President Donald Trump made this claim during the presidential debate on October 23.
Complete details:

US President Donald Trump claimed that 99% of people recover from COVID-19.

He made this claim during the final presidential debate on Friday, October 23, Manila time. On the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump said, "99.9 [percent] of young people recover. 99% of people recover. We have to recover, we can't close up our nation."

The claim that 99% of people recover from COVID-19 is false.

The definition of "recovered" COVID-19 cases vary per state. These may include those discharged from hospitals, released from isolation, or those not identified as fatalities after a number of days post-disease onset. Separate from this, states also record hospitalized individuals.

According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 3,353,056 recoveries over 8,406,718 cases in the US as of October 23. This makes for a case recovery rate of 39.88%. Globally, there were 28,349,541 recoveries out of 41,705,699 cases as of October 23, which makes a case recovery rate of 67.97%.

In addition, 223,042 deaths out of 8,406,718 cases were reported in the US as of October 23, equivalent to a case fatality rate of 2.65%. Globally, there have been 1,137,333 deaths out of 41,705,699 recorded cases as of October 23, which makes for a 2.72% case fatality rate.

It is important to note that case fatality rate – computed using the number of confirmed deaths and confirmed cases and reflects the severity of a disease in a specific context, time, and population – is not the same as infection fatality rate, which reflects the likelihood that someone infected with COVID-19 will die. However, the infection fatality rate cannot be determined as of yet since the total number of COVID-19 cases is still unknown, owing to instances wherein people infected with COVID-19 do not get tested, among others.

Trump did not specify the age range for "young people," but the US Census Bureau defines children as those under 18 years old, and young adults as those aged 18 to 34.

From a dataset of 6,189,059 cases and 158,975 deaths as of October 22 reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the age group available for 99% of them, there were a total of 945 deaths out of 2,020,020 cases of people aged 0 to 29, equivalent to a case fatality rate of 0.04%. For the group aged 30 to 39, there were also 2,102 deaths recorded as of October 22.

Moreover, an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that of 3,222 young adults aged 18 to 34 who required hospitalization for COVID-19 in the US, 2.7% died.

During the debate, Trump repeated another misleading claim that he had already made during the town hall event last October 16, wherein he said the US was expected to have 2.2 million deaths to the coronavirus. In truth, this figure represented the predicted number of American deaths if there were no control measures implemented.

In the first presidential debate, Trump also falsely claimed that children are not vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. – Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com

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