Researchers calculated a 1.4 percent likelihood of dying in the city where the pandemic began. Earlier estimates ranged from 2 percent to 3.4 percent.
Tedros Adhanom

Tedros Adhanom, Director general of the World Health Organization
A new study reports that people who became sick from the coronavirus in the Chinese city where the outbreak began likely had a lower death rate than previously thought.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Nature Medicine, calculated that people with coronavirus symptoms in Wuhan, China, had a 1.4 percent likelihood of dying. Some previous estimates have ranged from 2 percent to 3.4 percent.


Comment: Eh, 3.4%. You ALL were reporting 3.4%. Which is why most people on Earth have spent the last 6 weeks bleating that figure back to each other.


Assessing the risk of death in Wuhan is instructive because it provides a snapshot of the epidemic from the beginning, when doctors were scrambling to treat people with the brand-new virus and hospitals were overwhelmed. Some experts say that such a benchmark — known as the symptomatic case fatality rate — could be lower in countries like the United States if measures like widespread business and school closures and appeals for social distancing have the desired effect of slowing the spread of the disease.

"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," wrote the study authors, a team that included scientists from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

But a 1.4 percent case fatality rate still means many deaths. By comparison, the average seasonal flu kills about 0.1 percent of the people it infects in the United States.

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