Doctor: Coronavirus symptoms and death rate are no different than flu

Despite the hysteria, the vast majority of people who contract the coronavirus COVID-19 will have very mild symptoms, according to the CDC and the World Health Organization.

New data shows the illness is not as dangerous as some had thought, according to HCA Houston Healthcare doctors. COVID-19 was previously thought to be more deadly than the flu, but as the virus spreads around the globe and more data is collected, the virus is turning out not to be very deadly at all, according to Dr. Mujtaba Ali-Khan, the chief medical officer for all 13 HCA Hospitals in the Houston area.

"The mortality rate that was initially reported of 2 to 5 percent is actually around what the influenza virus is--around less than one percent,” said Ali-Khan.

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The virus also appears to cause the most mild symptoms among younger populations.

"In our pediatric populations, and really across the world, they really have done very well with this flu-like symptoms,” said Kelli Nations, division chief nurse executive for HCA Houston Health. "The disease is presenting in our younger populations such as just like they've had a cold."

Coronavirus symptoms are the same as cold or flu symptoms—cough, fever, congestion—said Ali-Khan.

"You would not be able to tell I have coronavirus versus influenza just by your symptoms,” said Ali-Khan. “There is a test that needs to be done."


80 percent of those infected with coronavirus COVID-19 only develop mild symptoms or no symptoms, according to the World Health Organization.

Despite the fact that most symptoms are mild, the fear is real amongst many Houstonians.

"Me and my kids were going to go to the Rodeo during spring break,” said Gretchen Fields. “We most definitely are not doing that anymore."

"I actually stopped going to the gym since I heard the case,” said Oderius Isaac. “I actually work out at home."

Part of the concern is likely due to the impact the virus has on the very elderly and sick populations who are hardest hit by the virus’ symptoms, said Ali-Khan. About 15 percent of people do develop serious symptoms, but for most patients, the virus goes away in a couple of weeks on its own.

"From the data we're seeing, it does self-resolve--similar to a common cold," said Ali-Khan.