The dangers of Long COVID

Why you need to look at more than the mortality rate

Shefali O'Hara
3 min readDec 28, 2021


Photo by Quinten Braem on Unsplash

I got COVID back in February, 2020.

This was before most people were much concerned about this novel coronavirus. I had read a couple of reports, but didn’t worry about it.

Then I got together with a friend whose parents had recently traveled to Taiwan. Next thing I knew, their young daughter was in the hospital. She was having a hard time breathing. Then the rest of the family got sick, but with thankfully much milder symptoms. Then I got sick.

It was like a bad cold. I was miserable for a couple of days, then recovered.

I didn’t think anything of it, except… for several weeks after, I couldn’t taste anything. That was annoying but not the end of the world. Far more troubling — I noticed an increased shortness of breath.

As I read more about COVID, I realized that, most likely, I had not had just a bad cold. Later antibody testing proved this.

Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to decide that, for most people, COVID is simply not that bad, at least for people living in developed countries where people are well nourished and have access to clean water and adequate medical care. In countries like India, this is obviously not the case as the heartbreaking videos of young people gasping for oxygen and the funeral pyres going around the clock showed.

However, if you look at research out of Stanford University, COVID is simply not that scary — at least if you only look at mortality rates.

For those 19 years old or younger, COVID has a 99.9973% survival rate. Only 1 child out of 37,037 infected died. Meanwhile, in 2019, there was a 1 in 8,393 chance of dying from an automobile accident. The odds of getting struck by lightening, by comparison, is only 1 in 500,000 in any given year.

Therefore, it seems that COVID is far less deadly than riding in a car and far more so than lightening. It’s also way less fatal than, say, the Spanish flu, which killed 1 in 50 people who got it, or smallpox, which is considered one of history’s biggest killers, with death occurring in almost 1 out of 3 of those infected.



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.