Estimates of the severity of COVID-19 disease
Lucy C Okell,
Patrick G T Walker,
Jamie T Griffin,
Zulma M Cucunubá,
Sabine van Elsland,
Christl A Donnelly,
Azra C Ghani,
Neil M. Ferguson
Posted 13 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.09.20033357
Posted 13 Mar 2020
BackgroundA range of case fatality ratio (CFR) estimates for COVID-19 have been produced that differ substantially in magnitude. MethodsWe used individual-case data from mainland China and cases detected outside mainland China to estimate the time between onset of symptoms and outcome (death or discharge from hospital). We next obtained age-stratified estimates of the CFR by relating the aggregate distribution of cases by dates of onset to the observed cumulative deaths in China, assuming a constant attack rate by age and adjusting for the demography of the population, and age- and location-based under-ascertainment. We additionally estimated the CFR from individual line-list data on 1,334 cases identified outside mainland China. We used data on the PCR prevalence in international residents repatriated from China at the end of January 2020 to obtain age-stratified estimates of the infection fatality ratio (IFR). Using data on age-stratified severity in a subset of 3,665 cases from China, we estimated the proportion of infections that will likely require hospitalisation. FindingsWe estimate the mean duration from onset-of-symptoms to death to be 17.8 days (95% credible interval, crI 16.9-19.2 days) and from onset-of-symptoms to hospital discharge to be 22.6 days (95% crI 21.1-24.4 days). We estimate a crude CFR of 3.67% (95% crI 3.56%-3.80%) in cases from mainland China. Adjusting for demography and under-ascertainment of milder cases in Wuhan relative to the rest of China, we obtain a best estimate of the CFR in China of 1.38% (95% crI 1.23%-1.53%) with substantially higher values in older ages. Our estimate of the CFR from international cases stratified by age (under 60 / 60 and above) are consistent with these estimates from China. We obtain an overall IFR estimate for China of 0.66% (0.39%-1.33%), again with an increasing profile with age. InterpretationThese early estimates give an indication of the fatality ratio across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease and demonstrate a strong age-gradient in risk.
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