U.N. body’s figure in March was 26 times higher
Lost in the reporting of the World Health Organization’s new estimate that about 760 million people – more than 20 times the confirmed cases – have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide is the impact on the estimated survival rate.
If, indeed, 760 million have been infected at some point during the outbreak and the number of confirmed deaths is about 1 million, the infection fatality rate is only 0.13%.
That’s a little more than one-tenth of 1%, which the WHO says is the rate for the seasonal flu.
The WHO’s estimate in March of a death rate of 3.4% sparked panic worldwide, fueling the catastrophic lockdowns.
A rate of 3.4% is more than 26 times higher than a rate of 0.13%.
The Associated Press reported Monday that Dr. Michael Ryan, speaking to a special session of the WHO’s COVID-19 board, said the figures vary from urban to rural areas.
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But ultimately, he said, it means “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.”
“Many deaths have been averted and many more lives can be protected,” Ryan said alongside WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Our current best estimates tell us that about 10% of the global population may have been infected by this virus,” he said.
The AP noted the estimate far outstrips the number of confirmed cases counted by both the WHO and Johns Hopkins University of more than 35 million worldwide.
WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris said the 10% estimate is based on an average of antibody studies conducted around the world.
Meanwhile, a new study by researchers at Wayne State University in Michigan found COVID-19’s severity may be fading as the death rate falls.
In August, the New York Times found in an analysis of data that up to 90% of people testing positive carried barely any virus.
Times reporter Apoorva Mandavilli summarized her story on Twitter: “NEW: All these months into the pandemic, we may have been testing the wrong way. Data from some state labs suggest up to 90% (!!) of people who get a positive result are no longer contagious and don’t need to isolate.”
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control issued new estimates that showed people under 50 years infected by COVID-19 have nearly a 100% survival rate. It broke down to a 99.997% survival rate for 0-19; 99.98% for ages 20-49; 99.5% for 50-69; and 94.6% for those over 70.
Those who died of coronavirus, according to the CDC, had an average of 2.6 comorbidities, meaning more than two chronic diseases along with COVID-19. Overall, the CDC says, just 6% of the people counted as COVID-19 deaths died of COVID-19 alone.
The CDC’s overall count shows a significant downward trend from a peak of 17,054 deaths on April 18.
A recent study by researchers at the Houston Methodist Research Institute raised concerns about coronavirus mutations as the fall season begins. Among more than 5,000 genetic sequences of COVID-19 they found more than 90% of samples contained a mutation.
Significantly, however, the Houston researchers found the mutations did not make the virus deadlier.