The coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while mild in most cases, has nevertheless caused significant mortality. The measures adopted in most countries to contain it have led to colossal social and economic disruptions, which will impact the medium- and long-term health outcomes for many communities. In this paper, we deliberate on the reality and facts surrounding the disease. For comparison, we present data from past pandemics, some of which claimed more lives than COVID-19. Mortality data on road traffic crashes and other non-communicable diseases, which cause more deaths each year than COVID-19 has so far, is also provided. The indirect, serious health and social effects are briefly discussed. We also deliberate on how misinformation, confusion stemming from contrasting expert statements, and lack of international coordination may have influenced the public perception of the illness and increased fear and uncertainty. With pandemics and similar problems likely to re -occur, we call for evidenced-based decisions, the restoration of responsible journalism, and communication built on a solid scientific foundation.