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Understanding COVID-19: Episode 4 – Fatality

By Bob Arnot, M.D., sponsored by DeVry University

March 31, 2020
2 min read

What are some of the contributing factors to the fatality rate of the coronavirus and how does this compare to the flu? Dr. Arnot explains this along with some of China’s contributing factors and percentage of risk associated with pre-existing conditions.

Video Transcription

Fatality rate is the number which concerns all of us the most, and is varied by country, region and hospital. Tony Fauci estimates that this may be around 1% of the population. Since the flu's mortality is 0.1%, fatality rate would still be 10 times higher for corona. Since many asymptomatic patients have not been tested, this could be lower once the true number of positive patients is known.

In China, the peak death rate was about 3.4%, perhaps due to lower overall basic health conditions in the population, the treatment the very ill received, or that asymptomatic people were not counted in the numbers.

The fatality rate does vary by age. Patients:

  • Under the age of 50, the mortality rate is 0.2% or lower

  • 50 to 59, 1.3%

  • 60 to 69, 3.6%

  • 70 to 79, 8%

  • 80+, 14.8%

Why the difference? Older individuals and those with a chronic illness may have a less robust immune system.

Here are the risks for preexisting conditions:

  • Cardiovascular disease, 10.5%

  • Diabetes, 7%

  • Lung disease, 6.3%

  • High blood pressure, 6%

  • Cancer, 5.6%.

Men die at a rate nearly twice as high as women.

How fatal is corona compared to other illnesses? On the left, you can see the fatality rate and on the right, the R naught [R0] or transmissibility the disease has. Now corona is higher than mumps, but less than SARS, smallpox, MERS or Ebola, which is over 50%.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the author.  The content is intended to provide general information on the nature of the pandemic, potential exposures, and is not intended to provide medical advice or address medical concerns or specific risk circumstances.  Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider regarding a medical condition.  Neither DeVry University nor its employees or business partners, nor any contributor to this content, makes any representations, express or implied, with respect to the information provided herein or to its use.

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