While governments are discussing how and when the blockade should be relaxed, a fundamental question about the pandemic remains open: What is Covid-19’s death rate?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 varies greatly from country to country, even within the same country but from week to week. In Germany, the death rate is 3 per 100 people. In Italy, this rate is 5 times higher.
Singapore had only 10 deaths out of 4,427 cases as of April 16, a very low rate of only 0.2%, not unlike seasonal flu.
In contrast, the death rate in the US increased gradually, from 1.35% at the end of March, to 4% on April 15, and increased to 5% on April 16, after New York City counted thousands more cases. death “may have been infected by the virus”.
That doesn’t mean Covid-19 is causing more deaths. It takes several weeks for Covid-19 to lead to death, so the increased death rate may reflect cases from previous weeks, according to the Washington Post.
Difficult to determine the rate if not tested enough
Without extensive testing to know the total number of infected people, it is difficult to determine the mortality rate in the population community. Scientists have also said many infected people have no symptoms.
In Michigan, where the death rate soared to 7.2%, experts say more testing is needed.
The lack of adequate testing, as well as weakness in the health monitoring system, is causing many places to be concerned about the missing death count. Some places have revised their statistics.
Wuhan has collated statistics from police agencies, health agencies, funeral homes, and counted 1,290 more deaths from Covid-19, bringing the total number of victims to 3,869. The number of infections increased by 325, to 50,333 cases.
New York City on April 14 revised its Covid-19 deaths, increasing the number by more than 3,700 to include those who have not been tested but are more likely to be infected with the virus.
The death rate is equal to the number of deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases. While the epidemic crisis is still ongoing, both the numerator and the denominator are constantly changing.
“We need more tests,” Teena Chopra, a professor of infectious diseases at Wayne State University, told the Washington Post.
Compared to the 1918 flu pandemic
With such a strong spread and mortality rate, the Covid-19 epidemic is being compared to the 1918 influenza pandemic.
The two pandemics are completely different viruses and take place in completely different times. The 1918 pandemic occurred when the virus was not well understood, medical interventions were still in its infancy, and many countries were in constant war, so they censored news about the disease.
No one knows exactly how many people died from the 1918 flu, estimates are between 15 million and 100 million worldwide. Historians estimate that in the US alone 675,000 people died in the three epidemics.
But contrary to the Covid-19 epidemic, in 1918, many elderly people appeared to be somewhat immune to the influenza virus, possibly due to previous exposure to the influenza virus. The median age of 1918 influenza victims is 28.
“If it is true that the mortality rate of Covid-19 is higher than the 1918 flu, this pandemic could kill more people than that,” said Donald Forthal, an immunologist at the University of California – Irvine. “Nothing like that in my generation, or the generation of my parents, or the previous generation lived through 1918.”
A 1918-1920 pandemic scholar estimated that the pandemic killed 218 out of 100,000 people in the world at the time. Pandemic this time has not been so, but the virus has only spread for a few months.
The question of whether corona virus is so deadly “will depend on how long the pandemic will last,” said Jason Oke, a medical statistician at Oxford University.
Mortality rates vary between groups
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is not only highly contagious and potentially fatal, but also unpredictable. This virus can be deadly or cause no symptoms. Most cases have mild symptoms and recover at home.
Some patients who think they are recovering, change direction and get worse quickly. There are concerns about the long-term effects of the disease. Classified as respiratory disease, but Covid-19 is thought to affect the heart, liver, and kidneys.
The virus is thought to be much more dangerous for the elderly, causing severe cases. Still, most people infected with any age, including over 85, will recover.
Initial research showed that the virus did not mutate significantly when spread, and there was no evidence that a SARS-CoV-2 virus strain somewhere in the world was more dangerous than the rest.
Different places will have different populations. Some European countries with a lot of elderly people, such as Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, are recording mortality rates higher than 10%.
Another factor influencing mortality is the number of people with chronic illness. The most serious cases requiring hospitalization are people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease. Where there are many people with high blood pressure, there will also be many deaths from Covid-19.
In the United States, this is a big problem for people of color communities or the poor, because they have a higher incidence of these diseases, which makes it harder to access medical care.
“We find the infection rate not so different, but the death rate of blacks is 2-3 times higher than whites,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said of his city.
He said African-Americans have 3 times higher rates of chronic kidney disease than white Americans. For heart disease, African Americans have 25% higher incidence than whites.
Depends on the health system and policies
Equally important is the health system. In Japan (the mortality rate is 1.6%) and Singapore, the rate of Covid-19 patients hospitalized up to 80% or higher – the unthinkable number in the US. Thus, the patients are treated, and at the same time isolated from further infection, resulting in fewer deaths.
Clear policies will also make a difference. Some countries with low mortality rates – Germany, South Korea, and Norway – all have high test rates, allowing them to understand the disease situation in their territories.
Similarly, in the US, John Balmes, a professor of the School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, said his school’s hospital had prepared it by tripling the capacity of the intensive care unit (ICU), but the The load they were expecting never happened, because San Francisco ordered a social gap before New York a few days.
“The intensive care system in New York is as good as we are in California, but eventually they get overwhelmed. We were only a few days apart from New York, but those were important days, ”Mr. Balmes said.
The death rate in China was initially at 2.3%. On March 3, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a global death rate of 3.4% based on data from other countries up to that time. US officials again predicted that the death rate could be between 0.1% and 1%.
But more than a month later, on April 16, the WHO figure increased to 6.6%.
The death rate will always be an incorrect figure, but between a pandemic, all we can do is estimate.
At this pandemic, testing is not enough to cause many cases to be overlooked. People who have no symptoms have no reason to get tested.