Coronavirus lethality: is the death rate 8 or 0.8% in Italy?

Coronavirus lethality: is the death rate 8 or 0.8% in Italy?

The numbers about the coronavirus lethality differ dramatically. While in Italy, the authorities report a mortality rate around 8-9%, Germany and Japan reported numbers closer to 1-2%.

Why does that happen?

The number report today was a little over 6K deaths for 64K confirmed coronavirus infection. That’s a mortality rate of 9.3%. Quite high, worrying.

However, Japan reported 33 deaths out of ~1K cases (3.3% mortality rate) and Germany reported only 159 deaths in close to 34K confirmed cases… wait, that’s only 0.5% mortality rate. 

Six times lower than Japan and almost 20 times lower than Italy. What is Germany doing differently?

I already have an opinion, but let’s cover all the available theories:
 1) The most obvious: the health system in Germany is better equipped
2) The germans are using innovative treatments
3) Germany is still on the early days of the outbreak, so there was not “enough time” for the mortality rate to stabilize

And the less obvious: they are simply testing more people.

How much does it impact? TEN TIMES, at least. They are testing ten times more people, and that’s what brings the mortality rate so down, so in reality:

  • Infection rates are probably 10 times lower
  • Mortality rates are probably 10 times lower

We simply don’t have an accurate estimation of the total number of affected individuals, because a lot of them don’t develop the symptoms.

The easiest explanation is often the right one. It’s called the Okam Razor in science… and that’s a fairly simple explanation for this discrepancy in the numbers.

Also, this number is closer to the “perception” of health professionals in the frontlines. In proportion, not many people are dying from the coronavirus infection – so, not that serious – however, the numbers are high because the virality is higher than the one we are used to for respiratory diseases.

The germans are in fact actively testing people, even if they don’t present symptoms. That’s the only way to have an accurate estimate of the infection rate in the population.

If I could have one sentence to say here, it would be: don’t panic. These time sare over.

Try to prevent infection, wash your hands, keep the immunity system well set, and that’s it.

The likelyhood of a lethal cause is low, if adequate critical care is available.

A treatment is underway, we’ll have vaccines for the next year and this whole thing will pass. I bet that coronavirus infection won’t be a trending topic by your next birthday party.

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Fabricio Pamplona is the founder of Mind the Graph - a tool used by over 400K users in 60 countries. He has a Ph.D. and solid scientific background in Psychopharmacology and experience as a Guest Researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (Germany) and Researcher in D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR, Brazil). Fabricio holds over 2500 citations in Google Scholar. He has 10 years of experience in small innovative businesses, with relevant experience in product design and innovation management. Connect with him on LinkedIn - Fabricio Pamplona.