Health and Fitness

COVID-19 Is the 'Loneliest Disease in Human History,' Says Survivor Howie Severino

“The reason why I decided to own this statistic is because I wanted to humanize the statistic."
IMAGE Howie Severino / I-Witness, GMA Nework

In the Philippines, over 470,000 Filipinos have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and luckily, over 430,000 have survived.

Less than 10,000 Filipinos have died from this coronavirus. While tributes have been made left and right to the civilians and frontliners we’ve lost to this virus, there’s also a need to celebrate the survivors and the hope they carry that the virus will pass.

In the third episode of Esquire Philippines’ Lonely Hearts podcast hosted by Editor-at-Large Sarge Lacuesta, we talked to Howie Severino, celebrated veteran journalist and now a face for COVID-19 survivors in the Philippines.

“The reason why I decided to own this statistic is because I wanted to humanize the statistic,” said Severino to Esquire Philippines.

In the early days of COVID-19 and lockdown, there were so few patients that you could still find out what number you were. Severino was patient 2828, among the first in the Philippines to get COVID-19, which has now infected almost half a million in the country.

“Early on, a lot of the news about this disease was about the deaths, the people who were dying. You weren’t reading about the survivors. It was very rare. Before I got sick, our news department was saying, how come our news is full of people who are dying of COVID and not surviving COVID?” shared Severino.

“There must be people who are surviving. So we were looking, and apparently, there weren’t a lot of people who were willing to talk about it simply because, this is worse than leprosy, in terms of the social stigma. I think it’s the most stigmatized, loneliest disease in human history.”


Severino, like many Filipinos, survived the virus despite getting a serious bout of the disease. At one point, Severino shared he believed this was the end of the line for him, and even emailed his wife all his passwords in case the worst came to pass. After surviving the virus, Severino made a point to talk about it, something not everyone has chosen to do. And in true journalistic fashion, he even produced a documentary about it while still hooked up to an IV in the hospital.

Since then, he’s become the face of survivors, living proof that Covid is a serious disease while also showing that there is hope and life after Covid as well.

To hear all about Severino’s Covid experience, his decision to return home to the Philippines, and the trials of the Internet generation, listen to Lonely Hearts by Esquire Philippines, hosted by Sarge Lacuesta, on  SpotifyApple PodcastsAnchor, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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