The asteroid which might enter Earth’s atmosphere on 2 November will not “hit” Earth
27 October 2020
What was claimed
There is only a 0.26% chance of catching Covid-19.
Incorrect. The US CDC published figures suggesting the chance of dying from Covid-19 after being infected was 0.26% and has since updated these figures. The chance of catching Covid-19 is much higher than that in many countries, including the UK.
What was claimed
There is a 0.42% chance of an asteroid hitting Earth on 2 November.
NASA says there is a 0.41% chance of an asteroid entering Earth’s atmosphere but, if so, it is so small it would burn up in the atmosphere before “hitting Earth.”
A post on Facebook claims that while there’s only a 0.26% chance of catching Covid-19, there’s a 0.42% chance of an asteroid hitting Earth on 2 November. It continues: “I don’t know about you lot but I’m trading my mask in for a[...]helmet.”
In all likelihood, it’s a better idea to keep a hold of your mask. Your chance of catching Covid-19 is likely much higher than that (although this will vary depending on where you live and what you do), while the asteroid would burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Covid-19 infection rate
The 0.26% figure in the post actually refers to the chance of dying from Covid-19 if you catch it, not the chance of catching it in the first place.
This figure was estimated based on figures published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May.
Back then, the CDC estimated that 0.4% of people who developed symptoms of Covid-19 would die of it, and that 35% of cases were asymptomatic (and so 65% were symptomatic).
The post refers to an asteroid named 2018VP1 which NASA says has a 0.41% chance of entering Earth’s atmosphere.
However NASA says that if it did, it would disintegrate in the atmosphere before reaching Earth’s surface as it is small, only around 6.5 feet wide.
NASA also says: “About once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface.
“Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area.”
This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here.
For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context
because the figure given for the risk of catching Covid-19 is actually an estimate of the risk of dying from it once infected, and the asteroid in question has a chance of entering Earth’s atmosphere but not “hitting” Earth.
Correction 28 October 2020
This article has been corrected to clarify how the 0.26% fatality rate was calculated.
You’ve probably seen a surge in misleading and unsubstantiated medical advice since the Covid-19 outbreak. If followed, it can put lives at serious risk. We need your help to protect us all from false and harmful information.
We’ve seen people claiming to be health professionals, family members, and even the government – offering dangerous tips like drinking warm water or gargling to prevent infection. Neither of these will work.
The longer claims like these go unchecked, the more they are repeated and believed. It can put people’s health at serious risk, when our services are already under pressure.
Today, you have the opportunity to help save lives. Good information about Covid-19 could be the difference between someone taking the right precautions to protect themselves and their families, or not. Could you help protect us all from false and harmful information today?