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Americans 'dramatically misunderstand' risk of dying from COVID-19

Americans ‘Dramatically Misunderstand’ Risk of Dying from COVID-19: Researchers

WASHINGTON – Americans are “dramatically mistaken” about the risk of death they face during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the findings of a joint Franklin Templeton-Gallup research project published last month.
Researchers found that Americans overestimated the death rate for people aged 55 or under, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through July 22. For example, respondents estimated that people aged 44 or younger made up 30% of U.S. COVIDs. Nineteen deaths, while the actual figure for this age group was 2.7%.
Conversely, Americans estimated that people aged 55 or older accounted for about 57% of deaths from COVID-19, while the actual figure was 92%.
Americans believed that people aged 65 or older accounted for about 40% of deaths from COVID-19, while the exact number was 80%.
This misconception “translates directly into a level of healthy fear that for most people far exceeds the actual risk,” according to Sonal Desai, chief investment officer at Franklin Templeton Fixed Income.
“The fact that a large portion of the population overestimates the danger of COVID-19 to young people will make a targeted public health response more difficult to agree,” Desai said.
“We believe this will likely delay the recovery, causing a deeper and more prolonged recession.”
While people aged 18 to 24 accounted for 0.1% of all deaths from COVID-19, around 59% of those surveyed in this age group said they feared significant health consequences if they were contracting the virus. The CDC’s website notes that “the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older people most at risk.”
The researchers identified “partisanship and social media” as critical factors in the gaps.
“Fear and anger are the most reliable engines of engagement; the frightening stories of young victims of the pandemic, suggesting that we are all at risk of dying, are quickly going viral; so make stories that blame everything on your political opponents,” Desai said.
“Social and traditional media have produced both types of stories to generate more clicks and increase their audience.”
Franklin Templeton and Gallup found that people who relied on social media as their primary source of information about the pandemic had “the most misguided and distorted perception of risk.”
The researchers drew the results from online surveys of 10,014 American adults aged 18 or older from July 2 to 14.
As of Tuesday evening, the United States had reported more than 5.4 million individual confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 169,000 deaths, according to the CDC.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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