A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, published March 17, finds a 7.2% death rate among all 22,512 known COVID-19 cases in Italy, with a rate of 19.7% and higher for people over age 70. These figures should be viewed with caution, since not all cases are diagnosed or reported, but in the early days of this pandemic, the numbers are sobering.
Robert Roy Britt
The only relevant info in this paragraph is, “These figures should be viewed with caution since not all cases are diagnosed or reported.”
And even that is a gentle adjustment. I think a more accurate rephrase is, “These figures contain no reliable information — and when we disseminate them, it causes panic.”
You cannot determine a mortality rate without an accurate denominator for the infection rate. Current death rates are being calculated via deaths over “confirmed cases”.
AZ currently has 28 “confirmed cases” while the estimated infection rate five days ago was 70,000.
If we use “confirmed cases” to calculate and one person dies, that’s a 3% mortality rate.
If we use the five-day-old estimated infection rate which is a.) now five days old, and b.) given the extremely high degree of transmissibility and massive volume of mild/asymptomatic cases, much closer to accurate — it’s .001%.
Those numbers are disparate by a factor of 3000.
The reality falls somewhere in-between.
To get an accurate denominator, testing needs to be widespread and easily accessible. As we all know, it is not.
Pieces like this sensationalize and spread panic. There are enough ontological and epistemic uncertainties in current epidemiological COVID-19 modelling to render anything but the most basic projection moot.
When we spread misinformation like this, we are increasing the likelihood of an even higher death toll due to widespread panic.