• Question: Can coronavirus kill you? If so, how long does it take?

    Asked by sgurung on 9 Mar 2020. This question was also asked by ljoyo2870, HotPotato101.
    • Photo: Ioana Grigoras

      Ioana Grigoras answered on 9 Mar 2020:


      Hi! I don’t work at all with viruses, so I don’t really know a lot about the coronavirus, because it’s not something I do any research on.

      From what I read, people who catch it will have symptoms similar to that of a cold or flu, like fever, cough and shortness of breath. Currently, it seems to have a mortality rate of about 2% (that means that approximately 2 out of 100 people who catch it die), but it is important to know that this is calculated between people who died and people who went to their doctor and got diagnosed with the disease. There will be a lot of people who have developed symptoms and isolated themselves without going to the doctor. Those cases won’t be reported because they were not confirmed and thus, the actual mortality rate is most likely a lot smaller than 2%.

      It also seems to affect elderly people who already have other health problems and then, the flu-like symptoms make these preexisting problems worse. I wouldn’t know how long it takes to be fatal, but I guess it depends very much on how sick those people were before they got the virus.

      I think it is very important not to panic and keep in mind what the guidelines to stay safe are! Wash you hands with water and soap regularly, sneeze in your elbow or a tissue that you can throw away (not in your hands), don’t touch your face and stay inside if you are sick, so you don’t give it to other people.

    • Photo: Lotte de Winde

      Lotte de Winde answered on 10 Mar 2020:


      I’m totally with Fiona here. Thanks for giving a great and extensive answer.

    • Photo: Sophie Arthur

      Sophie Arthur answered on 10 Mar 2020:


      Coronavirus can kill you as we have seen people dying, but the likelihood of someone your age dying is much lower that older adults

    • Photo: Samir Hopestone

      Samir Hopestone answered on 10 Mar 2020:


      I don’t work with viruses myself, but from what I understand the death rate is about 2%, which is very low. Generally I think it affects those with preexisting conditions and weakened immune systems.

    • Photo: Nathan Kindred

      Nathan Kindred answered on 11 Mar 2020:


      I could but it generally only kills people with weakened immune systems. The rate of how long it would take varies a lot from person to person.

    • Photo: Sarah Clarke

      Sarah Clarke answered on 11 Mar 2020:


      Ioana has given a really thorough answer so I’m not sure I can add anything new to what she has said other than to say its important we all keep up to date on the latest advice to keep ourselves as safe as possible

    • Photo: M S

      M S answered on 12 Mar 2020:


      I think we dont know the answer to these questions yet. But i think its best to be vigilant

    • Photo: Kate Mitchell

      Kate Mitchell answered on 12 Mar 2020:


      Yes it can kill you, but most people recover. One group of scientists tried to estimate the proportion of people who are killed, taking into account that not everyone gets sick, and they estimated about 1% or 1 person in 100 die, but that estimate might change as we get more data.

      I don’t think we have a good idea yet how long it takes, but scientists are trying to estimate it.

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