New research pegs COVID-19 death rate at 0.66%

The question of how many people die after being infected with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the COVID-19 death rate, has been a moving target as testing and data, especially suspect early and continuing data out of China where the outbreak began, was incomplete.

New research, which takes into account milder cases that often go undiagnosed, shows the COVID-19 death rate is significantly lower than earlier rough estimates.

Arman Azad for CNN:

COVID-19 death rate. Image: Closeup of COVID-19 coronavirusThe research, published in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, estimated that about 0.66% of those infected with the virus will die.

In this study, researchers tried to estimate the true “infection fatality rate.” In other words, out of everybody infected — not just those sick enough to get tested — how many people will die?

Approximately 7.8% of those 80 or older estimated to die after infection. And deaths were estimated to be exceedingly rare in children younger than 9, with a fatality rate of just 0.00161%. For age groups younger than 40, the death rate was never higher than 0.16%, according to the study… “There might be outlying cases that get a lot of media attention, but our analysis very clearly shows that at aged 50 and over, hospitalisation is much more likely than in those under 50, and a greater proportion of cases are likely to be fatal,” said Azra Ghani, a professor at Imperial College London and an author of the study, in a statement.

MacDailyNews Take: Even though most people who understand basic math figured that the early COVID-19 death rate estimates were likely far too high, this is still relatively good news, certainly compared to early estimates. However, without a vaccine, COVID-19 is still far more potent than even a severe flu season (on average, in the U.S., the mortality rate for influenza is 0.1%). Social distancing, staying home, proper and frequent handwashing, etc. is imperative! More info on the Prevention & Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) via the U.S. CDC is here.

The full research report can be found here: “Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis” – The Lancet Infectious Diseases.


  1. Astoundingly correct.

    1. The possibility of a lower mortality rate is certainly welcome news! However, the problem remains that “the virus that shall not be named by its origin” is more contagious and deadly (even if just by a bit) than the seasonal flu, spreads by those without symptoms and there is currently no vaccine. Not a good combo.

      1. Yes, it has such mild symptoms that most of those who get it don’t know it. That makes it awful. It’s like “cooties”. Versus the flu this virus falls in the normal range of seasonal flus. But it is creating massive damage via the shutdown of the American economy, which will produce increased heart attacks, strokes and suicides as American deal with joblessness, defaulting on their mortgages, and hopelessness coming from being locked in their homes with no release date. Those are the real victims.

        1. So the folks in Italy and NYC who are being loaded into refrigerator trucks because there is no room for them in the morgues aren’t “real victims?”

          We don’t know the mortality rate with any certainty, and we won’t until we have a reliable way to test antibodies. Until then, any estimate is a guess. From the beginning, CDC has been estimating the rate at 1%, more or less. This guess is in that ballpark, so no real surprise here. Everybody knew that the raw mortality rates initially reported in China and Italy were far too high because nobody without symptoms was being tested.

          The mortality rate, if it really is 0.66%, is still roughly 7 times higher than seasonal flu. If there are really that many asymptomatic cases out there, it not only affects the mortality rate, but the basic reproduction rate (R0). The current estimates were that one Covid-19 case infects about twice as many people as an average seasonal flu case. If there are even more undetected cases, the R0 is even higher. That makes vigorous social distancing more necessary, not less.

          1. Actually, the 0.66% figure is no more certain than the WHO estimate of 3.4% mortality rate announced on March 3. Here are some facts, current as of this writing (April 2, 5pm west coast time):

            There are slightly more than one million confirmed cases. In reality, there are certainly millions more, but no one knows just how many, because many are asymptomatic, or never sought medical care, or were never tested. There are 52,982 recorded deaths. Again, there are likely hundreds (if not thousands) more who haven’t been officially tested and/or counted.

            There are 750,000 active cases and 265,000 “closed” cases. This is the most interesting statistic. Of the cases in which there was an outcome, 212,000 are listed as recovered, and 52,982 have died. That 52,892 is an astounding 20% of ALL cases that have reached a conclusion.

            This is not to say the mortality rate is 20%. But is IS 20% of all cases that are considered “resolved.” That’s a scary stat.

            This is not the flu. This is nothing like the flu.

            And the sooner some folks stop thinking it is, the better off ALL of us will be.

    2. In a single word: BULLSHIT.

      The 0.66% number from a “study” is not based upon fact.
      In an aggregate of the official reports from states and counties of the U.S. as of 4 PM 31 March 2020: Confirmed aggregate cases: 184,770. The aggregate number of confirmed deaths directly due to COVID-19: 3,746. That’s 2.03%.

      And that’s in the U.S. In some parts of the world the death rate exceeds 10%. It’s simple arithmetic.

      No one should be believing a 0.66% number. No one.

        1. 0.66% isn’t “way under” 1%. It is still at least 7 times higher than seasonal flu. The high number of undiagnosed, but nonetheless contagious, cases makes the argument for quarantine stronger, not weaker (which is the point the President was trying to make).

      1. What do you think they were studying, if not facts?

        The truth is that 80% of the people who are infected are asymptomatic–In other words, they don’t even know they’re infected.

        This virus is HIGHLY infectious, but they are limiting the number of people who are tested for it to only those who are the most at risk.

        In other words, they don’t know how many people have it… So how can they possibly know the death toll, as a percentage? The answer is that they can’t.

        This virus is serious, but more because it is so infectious, and less because it is so deadly… Although, for some, it is.

        This is not a joke. We need to take proactive measures to be safe, but yes, the reported estimates are quite likely to be far far exagerated.

    3. Please, Fwhatever…I cannot take any more of your idiocy. Trump spouts lie after falsehood on a daily basis, but he talks so much that he is bound to come close To being right once in a while. Trump is not a medical professional and is no more qualified to make mortality estimates for Coronavirus than he is qualified to run a profitable casino.

      From the beginning everyone believed it likely that the actual COVID-19 mortality rate would be significantly lower than the initial estimates because those estimates were based on preliminary and incomplete data. The early mortality rate was elevated by the lack of medical experience with treating the virus in combination with an overloaded medical system.

      It should also be noted that the COVID-19 mortality rate varies due to several factors, including age and pre-existing conditions. For the elderly and immune compromised, the outlook is worse. Furthermore, even 0.66% is far worse than the regular flu which Trump used at one point.

      The fact that you feel the need to Trumpet the news when Trump may have said something that is close to reasonable means that Trump spouts a lot of drivel and outright falsehoods.

      The next time that you want to praise Trump, I encourage you to consider his tweet, rally, and “news” conferences over a period of weeks, not cherry pick one potentially reasonable assertion.

  2. 1.7 million Americans develop hospital-acquired infections each year, and 99,000 die of HAIs annually. Three-fourths of the infections start in places like nursing homes and doctors’ offices. The economic burden to the U.S. may be as high as $45 billion per year.

  3. The main features of COVID19 is the very fast rise in infections which results in a very fast rise in hospitalisations. You don’t see this with regular flu. This is a new attack vector on the human immune system.
    Recent research is showing that this virus has developed ways to actually suppress the very first immune responses of our bodies, which could explain why many people experience mild symptoms.
    There is also the recent research into asymptomatic cases spreading the virus, indicating the need for extra special attention with non-symptomatic cases.
    All this points to mass testing for the virus and mass testing for antibodies.
    Both much cheaper than destroying the economy.

    1. “…Recent research is showing that this virus has developed ways to actually suppress the very first immune responses of our bodies, which could explain why many people experience mild symptoms….” What recent research?

      1. It’s a long paper on how certain respiratory virus ‘evade’ the ‘innate immune system’ before being attacked by the main immune system. It doesn’t relate directly to COVID-19, but does cover SARS and MERS. It could explain why many people get infected but show no or low symptoms.
        Where I saw it referenced, I cannot find and this area is probably not heavily researched for CV19.

  4. MDN editorializing in the headline again. The original headline is “Coronavirus death rate is lower than previously reported, study says, but it’s still deadlier than seasonal flu”

    As I have said before, no one knows enough about the virus to make statements like this. There is a marked selectivity in what MDN posts and in which articles commenters seem to accept as true and accurate. Here’s another viewpoint…

    The bottom line is, NO ONE KNOWS what the true numbers will turn out to be. If you allow your politics to guide your behavior, your chances of contracting the virus and of dying will be higher than if you listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

    The MDN editors are not following their own advice, at least in terms of what they post. Get your news from as many sources as possible.

      1. If you can’t see ti difference between “pegs COVID-19 death rate,” CNN’s headline, and the actual article title, “Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease,” I’m not sure this is not a case of the moron calling the kettle black. Furthermore, this article’s methodology,, “By synthesising data from across a range of surveillance settings, we obtained estimates of the age-stratified case fatality ratio and infection fatality ratio that take into account the different denominator populations in the datasets” is a long way from “pegs,” a word which does not appear in the CNN report or the article. That’s MDN’s editorializing, indicating something more firm that the article’s authors have found.

  5. We will see if the economy is destroyed by April 30th. Unless they extend it even further, thereby assuring a depression. And that will be far worse than this virus ever will be.

    1. Thanks to Trump.

      Were you among the righties fervently demanding that the Fed needed to be drowned in a bathtub? Why are y’a lining up for guvmint cheese now? Survival compound not as comfortable as hoped?

    2. Seek your own freedom. This administration proved its as phony as all the rest. We don’t need them. Move to a place you can be free.

      If the Alaska winters aren’t your cup of tea, then I highly recommend Puerto Rico. Lots of cheap waterfront real estate and no federal interference whatsoever. DR & Haiti are excellent as well. From behind your wall, it’d be true paradise. No worries at all!

        1. brilliant sarcasm.

          if magats quarantined themselves on a hurricane-flattened island, how wonderful their libertarian lives ‘d be. xenophobic paradise. magats would put brass T-rump signs on the private coastal resorts & raze the inland slums to add more private fortresses with barracks to house their sugar plantation workers. maybe they’ll have their economic slaves make iphones. fat greedy infowars-bred magats craving that zero regulation, strongman single party govt, ugly walls and fortresses, and abuse of labor would finally have the paradise of their dreams


    3. If the predicted worst case scenario of 2.2 million deaths were to occur, would you consider that worth the cost? Don’t you think there would be a cost to the economy as a result of those deaths? You might want to ask an economist.

      1. MDN should come clean and editorialize what they really mean: party members inside The Wall are infinitely valuable. All others can be sacrificed for profit. Dear Leader will keep the Party safe by labeling and dehumanizing those heathens outside The Wall. THOSE creatures are all terrorists rapists and murderers.

        Next, the Orange Gestapo (formerly Justice Department) will stop investigating corruption and start their political revenges in earnest. Dissenters will be punished. Forget the Constitution, the press is the next enemy. Fake news. Only tweets are true. First 2014 Then post more propaganda. Only Dear leader knows the truth.

        Enjoy your walled monoculture fascist dream, trumpets, a few more months and it’s over. A functional republic requires that all sides of every story be heard, and all people be given equal justice.

  6. Each year, between 20 and 30 million people get the seasonal flu, and show symptoms (Symptomatic Illnesses):

    That number is an estimate based on surveys like “did you get the flu in the past year and not seek hospitalization”. I’ve never been hospitalized for the ‘flu’ but I’ve gotten it multiple times over my lifetime. So, estimates based on hospital or doctor visits are always going to be an “under reporting”.

    The number based on “Medical Visits” or “Hospitalizations” is a measured number, not an estimate. That number is between 10M and 15M (not counting the outlier 2011 season.

    If you consider last year only, and count JUST the Hospitalization + Medial Visits, you come up with a percentage of:

    100*38000(deaths)/(14,000,000+500,000) = 0.262%

    For Covid-19, ignoring the cases that are not symptomatic, or not bad enough to require a medical visit, we have:

    100 * 4713/211143 = 2.2%

    Now. If one would like to argue that there are “a lot of cases that are asymptomatic”, then sure the “real number” goes down. Just like the flu death rate decreases from 0.26% to 0.1%, covid would decrease also.

    The cited article is making the claim that the “under-reporting” of Covid-19 cases due to minor/no symptoms, means that the total number of people infected is >> than the current 185K in the US. This is a necessary calculation, in order to compare flu to Covid-19.

    If I just do a “SUPER GUESSTIMATE” here, and use the SAME RATIO (based on no evidence whatsoever), I’d get:

    0.1/0.262 * 2.2 = 0.86%

    So, IFF the ratio of symptomatic/asymptomatic cases of CoVid-19 is in the same ballpark as the similar rate for flu, then a number like 0.66% (or my guess of 0.86%) seems viable.

    It’s still >> flu rate – nearly 7X that rate, and possibly more.

    It all comes down to “how many people get it, but don’t show signs, or don’t show signs severe enough to warrant a visit to the Doc”

  7. Pretty sure that Stanford epidemiologist back on March 17, who pointed out that the data was weak and that the World might be overreacting to weak data, but that he thought the true mortality rate might only be 0.6%, was spot on.

    1. So, in other words, one epidemiologist admitted the data was weak, but felt he had to go on the record with his opinion. With weak data. Sounds like a crappy scientist to me.

      1. Right, KingMel. This isn’t Russian Roulette with 1 bullet and five empty chambers in every gun. Each gun has a different number of live rounds and chambers.

        Some of the factors affecting the probability are known to the players (things like age, sex, obesity, and diagnosed health conditions). Others are unknown (like hidden health conditions, virus load, and immune system strength). Some factors affecting survivability are external (like the availability of unexhausted medical professionals, hospital beds, and functioning ventilators). So, even if we knew that the overall mortality was 0.66%, 9%, or whatever, the chances for any given patient likely differ markedly from the average.

        Beyond that, this is a very infectious disease. When you ignore social distancing, you are not just holding a 6-gun with from 0 to 6 live rounds to your own head, but are forcing a number of other people to play the game with you, some of whom may be much more vulnerable than you are. Those involuntary players will be continuing the chain reaction to still more victims without even knowing it.

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