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Global fatality rate of COVID-19 stands at 5.5%

Posted April. 07, 2020 07:37,   

Updated April. 07, 2020 07:37


The current global fatality rate of COVID-19 is 5.5 percent as of Monday. This is much higher than the one to two percent range estimated by both domestic and overseas experts, including the World Health Organization. It is also higher than the virus’s fatality rate in China, which had failed in initial responses. What is especially notable is that while there are generally more deaths among the old and those with underlying diseases fatality rates vary significantly by country.

According to a statistics reference site Worldometers on Monday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was 1,274,853 while the death toll was 69,488. Italy has the highest mortality rate of 12.3 percent among the countries with over 5,000 cases, followed by other European countries, such as 10.3% for the U.K., 9.9% for the Netherlands, 9.6 percent for Spain, and 8.7% for France. Meanwhile, Israel, Australia, Russia, and Germany had much lower mortality rates of 0.6 percent, 0.7 percent, 0.8 percent, and 1.6 percent, respectively. The U.S. figure is 2.9 percent while South Korea shows 1.8 percent.

Such gaps in fatality rates are caused by differences in the scope of diagnostic tests and medical infrastructures. For Italy, the government’s low investment in the public medical system, its lack of infrastructures, such as sickbeds and respirators, and the high share of the elderly have been cited as the reasons for the country’s high death rate.

As the number of COVID-19 patients increases beyond the capacity of the country’s medical system, patients passed away as they were unable to receive timely medical help. Experts believe that South Korea’s COVID-19 mortality rate is the closest to the fatality rate based on the analysis of the virus’s own risks under the assumption that a medical system functions normally.

Sung-Min Park min@donga.com · Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com