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Adjusted age-specific case fatality ratio during the COVID-19 epidemic in Hubei, China, January and February 2020

By Anthony Hauser, Michel J Counotte, Charles C Margossian, Konstantinoudis Garyfallos, Nicola Low, Christian L Althaus, Julien Riou

Posted 06 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.04.20031104

AO_SCPLOWBSTRACTC_SCPLOWO_ST_ABSBackgroundC_ST_ABSThe epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019 is now pandemic. Reliable estimates of death from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are essential to guide control efforts and to plan health care system requirements. The objectives of this study are to: 1) simulate the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 using publicly available surveillance data; 2) give estimates of SARS-CoV-2 mortality adjusted for bias in the two regions with the worlds highest numbers of confirmed Covid-19 deaths: Hubei province, China and northern Italy. Method and FindingsWe developed an age-stratified susceptible-exposed-infected-removed (SEIR) compartmental model describing the dynamics of transmission and mortality during the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. Our model accounts for two biases; preferential ascertainment of severe cases and delayed mortality (right-censoring). We fitted our transmission model to surveillance data from Hubei province (1 January to 11 February 2020) and northern Italy (8 February to 3 March 2020). Overall mortality among all symptomatic and asymptomatic infections was estimated to be 3.0% (95% credible interval: 2.6-3.4%) in Hubei province and 3.3% (2.0-4.7%) in northern Italy. Mortality increased with age; we estimate that among 80+ year olds, 39.0% (95%CrI: 31.1-48.9%) in Hubei province and 89.0% (95%CrI: 56.2-99.6%) in northern Italy dies or will die. Limitations are that the model requires data recorded by date of onset and that sex-disaggregated mortality was not available. ConclusionsWe developed a mechanistic approach to correct the crude CFR for bias due to right-censoring and preferential ascertainment and provide adjusted estimates of mortality due to SARS-CoV-2 infection by age group. While specific to the situation in Hubei, China and northern Italy during these periods, these findings will help the mitigation efforts and planning of resources as other regions prepare for SARS-CoV-2 epidemics.

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