Man Who Thought COVID Was 'Propaganda' Survives After 98 Days in Hospital With Virus

A South Carolina man is recovering from a three-month hospital stay after contracting COVID-19 —a virus which he believed to be a hoax until he caught it himself.

The news is the latest example of someone changing their stance on the legitimacy of COVID-19 — or vaccines — once forced to confront the virus directly. As cases skyrocket nationwide, fueled by the highly contagious Delta strain, this increasingly common change of heart highlights the severity of COVID-19.

Earlier last month, for example, a woman died after giving birth due to COVID-19-related complications. She reportedly texted her mother: "Mom, I wish I got vaccinated."

In Missouri, an unvaccinated man nearly died from the virus, and all seven of his children, ranging in age from three to 18, also fell ill. "I never got better. I just kept getting worse," he said.

Like many others, Willie Ballew of Spartanburg County, South Carolina, feels lucky to be alive after his encounter with the disease. "From nurses and doctors, they only gave me a zero to five percent chance that I would make it," explained Ballew to WSPA, underscoring the severity of his condition.

According to the news outlet, the 34-year-old caught COVID-19 in April. He developed a cough and soon began to experience respiratory failure, at which point he was placed in a medically-induced coma.

"Before this, I thought COVID was propaganda, I'm not going to lie," confessed Ballew to WSPA. "I was in a coma for 29 days and then I came out, and I was intubated on the ventilator for another 30 days. While I was intubated, I ended up experiencing a perforated bowel."

In total, Ballew spent 98 days in the hospital, losing 110 pounds and experiencing multiple surgeries in the process. Now, he's home with his family—his wife and sons—but his recovery is not yet complete. "It wasn't the COVID, it was everything after COVID. It's what COVID can do to your body," he told WSPA.

He added that he lost strength in his right arm while in the hospital and that he is now working to build the muscle back up.

Ballew's wife, meanwhile, has a message for anyone still doubting the virus. "COVID is real. If you don't think so, please look at Willie," said Debrece Ballew, speaking to WSPA. "I am thankful, my children are thankful."

According to the news outlet, Ballew got his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

Newsweek was unable to reach the Ballew family for additional comment.

COVID Vaccine
A woman receiving a COVID-19 vaccination during a vaccine study in August 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images