Here’s why your chances of surviving COVID-19 now have never been better


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Your chances of surviving COVID-19 may have never been better than they are now.

But that doesn’t mean the virus itself is any less dangerous — especially with concerns about both the Omicron variant and a second straight winter holiday surge.

What’s changed are the tools doctors have to fight it — from vaccines to antibody treatments to other therapeutic drugs.

“It is somewhat, if you will, better now than it was before,” said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “But it’s still bad.”

Of the more than 1.5 million people in North Carolina who have tested positive since March 2020, more than 18,000 have died — which works out to 1.2 percent.

That’s an improvement: The rate was 1.4 percent exactly one year ago, and was at 3.8 percent in May 2020.

It has less to do with the virus itself and more to do with the ways we fight it.

“We’re better at treating people than we were before, and we just know more,” Wohl said. “We’ve got a better sense for it. So survival rates have increased.”

It’s why Wohl says the collection of vaccines, at-home tests, monoclonal antibody treatments and other therapeutics could go down as “one of the great accomplishments of science and medicine.

“We didn’t even know about this virus two years ago, now we have at-home tests. We now have vaccines that are better than anyone could have imagined and safer than anyone could have imagined,” he said.

“We now have therapies that we can give to people that decreases their risk of getting sick. And we have therapies that we give to people in the hospital,” he added. “All these things add up. And it’s just a marvel that we’ve got this and we’re going to keep on top of it science is working, and no one should be disappointed. We’ve really done a good job here.”

The most effective and important tool remains the vaccine, even if breakthrough cases continue to pop up with about 1.7 percent of the state’s 5.6 million fully vaccinated reporting one in 2021.

Of the approximately 12,000 COVID-19 deaths in the state this calendar year, 93 percent of them involved people who were not fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency also says unvaccinated people are more than five times more likely to catch COVID and 25 times more likely to die from it.

The unvaccinated also account for 77 percent of the COVID patients in hospitals and 88 percent of those in intensive care.

“Still, we see that the vast majority of people who get very ill with COVID-19 are unvaccinated,” Wohl said. “So now we have more people who are vaccinated. So if you’re vaccinated, your chances of getting severely ill is very low.”

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state, and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.

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