How Deadly is Covid-19?
Current death statistics from Italy and Spain are in excess of 10% of those who have tested positive for Covid-19. Germany has the most robust testing program, finding many asymptomatic persons testing positive for the virus. Germany’s death rate is near 1.5% of those testing positive. Still, even Germany has not yet tested the entire population.
Originally the World health organization told us that Covid-19 could not be passed person to person based on early reports from China in January. Wrong!
The first hot spot in the US was a nursing home in the Seattle area. After several residents died, local health officials treated the outbreak as a contagious disease. Blood samples were drawn, contacts tracked and urged to self-quarantine. Washington state has not had the huge increases in cases and deaths that has hit New York.
Testing in the US is still limited primarily to persons with symptoms in many areas. Testing only those with symptoms severe enough to be identified gives a falsely high death rate. The death rate is falling as we test more infected but asymptomatic persons.
The final death rate among ALL those who catch the virus will lower than early projections. But the real question is who is at high risk of death?
Next time: Who is at high risk of death from Covid-19?
Jay Ginther, MD