(Reuters) – Global deaths from COVID-19 have reached 1 million, but experts are still struggling to find an important metric for the epidemic: mortality rate – the percentage of people infected with the deadly virus.
Problems with a better understanding of the COVID-19 mortality rate can be found here.
How is the mortality rate calculated?
A true mortality rate compares deaths against the total number of infections, which is an unknown division because it is difficult to quantify the full extent of asymptomatic cases. Many people with infections do not experience symptoms.
Scientists say the total number of infections has increased exponentially over the current confirmed cases, and now stands at 33 million worldwide. Many experts believe that between 0.5% and 1% of people infected with the corona virus will become the most dangerous virus worldwide until a vaccine is identified.
Researchers are beginning to break down that risk with age, as evidence grows that younger people and children are less likely to develop serious illness.
“The under-20 mortality rate is one in 10,000. Over the age of 85, it’s one in six,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Measurements and Assessment at the University of Washington in Seattle.
What is the “case death rate”?
There has been a marked decline in mortality rates compared to the number of new infections confirmed by coronavirus testing. In places such as the United States, the “case death rate” fell from 6.6 percent in April to just 2 percent in August, according to Reuters figures.
But experts say the decline is largely driven by widespread testing compared to the early days of the epidemic, with more people diagnosed with mild illness or no symptoms. Advances in the treatment of the severely ill and the protection of certain high-risk groups add pride in improving survival.
Dr. Amash Adalja of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Care in Baltimore said, “We know a lot about potential problems and how to identify and treat them. “If you were a patient receiving COVID-19 in 2020, you would receive it now more than in March.”
What does it mean for individuals and governments?
This highlights the need for continued vigilance as some countries begin to experience second-wave infections.
For example, researchers in France estimate that the country’s mortality rate fell by 46% at the end of July compared to May, driven by an increase in testing, improved medical care and a higher rate of infections among young people. Less likely to experience serious illness.
“Now we see a new increase in hospital admissions and ICU (intensive care unit) records, which means this paradox is coming to an end,” said Mircia Sofonia, a researcher at the University of Montpellier in France. “We need to understand the reason for that.”
Report by Dina Beasley; Additional Report by Matthias Flamont in Paris; Will Dunham Editing