Antibody tests show lower coronavirus death rate than originally predicted

by Peter Heck · Jun 1st, 2020 12:13 pm

Experts at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security are reporting increasing evidence that the novel coronavirus is far less deadly than it first appeared to be. The new information follows expansive antibody testing that reveals individuals whose blood contains the antibodies to fight the virus, but not the virus itself.

These antibody tests have found significantly large numbers of Americans who had been infected but were largely asymptomatic, meaning they never fell seriously ill. That means risk of death from the virus is far less than originally feared.

Initially, the death rate from COVID-19 was estimated at a staggering 5% or higher. The new findings drop that rate significantly.

"The current best estimates for the infection fatality risk are between 0.5% and 1%," says Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Those numbers are almost precisely what Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the leading voices in the White House coronavirus task force, had predicted with his colleagues in a piece published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

While Fauci's prediction suggested the death rate could be "considerably less than 1%," he and other epidemiologists like Rivers caution it is still "many times more deadly" than the flu.

Johns Hopkins researchers are acquiring data from states like Indiana and New York, which have conducted massive random sample tests to determine an accurate death rate. Other states like Florida and California have conducted similar tests revealing an even lower fatality risk.


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