Harvard Study Claims COVID-19 Fatality Rate Far Lower Than World Health Org Suggests

According to reports from Western Journal, a new study from Harvard University and the University of Hong Kong suggests that the COVID-19 may have lower fatality rates than originally claimed.

The study was published in Nature Medicine last week. The study shows that only 1.4 percent of people who contracted the coronavirus in the epicenter of the disease, Wuhan, China died from it.

The original predictions for fatalities made by the World Health Organization was a 3.4 percent death rate.

“As of 29 February 2020 there were 79,394 confirmed cases and 2,838 deaths from COVID-19 in mainland China. Of these, 48,557 cases and 2,169 deaths occurred in the epicenter, Wuhan,” the study said.

“A key public health priority during the emergence of a novel pathogen is estimating clinical severity, which requires properly adjusting for the case ascertainment rate and the delay between symptoms onset and death.”

“Using public and published information, we estimate that the overall symptomatic case fatality risk (the probability of dying after developing symptoms) of COVID-19 in Wuhan was 1.4% (0.9–2.1%), which is substantially lower than both the corresponding crude or naïve confirmed case fatality risk (2,169/48,557 = 4.5%) and the approximator of deaths/deaths + recoveries (2,169/2,169 + 17,572 = 11%) as of 29 February 2020.”

“While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected.”

“The experience gained from managing those initial patients and the increasing availability of newer, and potentially better, treatment modalities to more patients would presumably lead to fewer deaths, all else being equal,” the study read.

“Public health control measures widely imposed in China since the Wuhan alert have also kept case numbers down elsewhere, so that their health systems are not nearly as overwhelmed beyond surge capacity, thus again perhaps leading to better outcomes.”

Commentary and Opinion from Western Journal:

Instead, the researchers from the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that the symptomatic case fatality risk — or sCFR, “the probability of dying after developing symptoms” from the coronavirus — was significantly lower than that.

There weren’t many surprises aside from that, at least if you’ve followed coronavirus science so far.

Older patients, defined in the paper, had an estimated 2.7 percent risk of dying from COVID-19. For those who were between the ages of 15 and 64, estimated risk of death was only 0.5 percent.

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For those ages 15-44, low and high estimates were 0.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively; those ages 45-64 had estimates of between 0.2 percent and 1.1 percent.

The researchers, led by Joseph T. Wu of the University of Hong Kong, noted that since they had “parameterized the model using death rates inferred from projected case numbers (from traveler data) and observed death numbers in Wuhan, the precise fatality risk estimates may not be generalizable to those outside the original epicenter, especially during subsequent phases of the epidemic.