Source: Wall Street Journal
A comparison of 26 studies that estimate the disease’s infection fatality rate* found varying results but pinpointed an overall rate of around 6.8 deaths per 1,000 infections.
The infection fatality rate measures deaths out of total estimated infections as opposed to confirmed cases.
“It’s not just what the infection-fatality rate is. It’s also how contagious the disease is, and Covid is very contagious,” said Eric Toner, an emergency medicine physician and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who studies health-care preparedness for epidemics and infectious diseases.
Health authorities and researchers have been working to gauge the death rate from the coronavirus to better understand the risk of the disease, estimate how many people might die and respond with the necessary public-health measures.
“The hard bit really is to work out how many people have been infected,” said Lucy Okell, who alongside colleagues at Imperial College London estimated the infection-fatality rate in China at 0.66% in a paper published in March.
To come up with an estimate for the fatality rate, some researchers take the known cases and numbers of deaths, then estimate the proportion missed or asymptomatic cases.
An analysis of 26 different studies estimating the infection-fatality rate in different parts of the globe found an aggregate estimate of about 0.68%, with a range of 0.53% to 0.82%, according to a report posted in July on the preprint server medRxiv, which hasn’t yet been reviewed by other researchers.
Researchers in the U.S. and Switzerland examined data from the Swiss city of Geneva to calculate fatality rates for different age groups.
Better treatment in the future could push the rate down, but a situation in which a hospital system is overwhelmed can drive the rate up, said Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, an epidemiologist at the University of Wollongong who co-wrote the July medRxiv paper.
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