Since December 2019, when it the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first discovered in Wuhan, China, it has infected more than 81,000 people worldwide, and caused 2,761 deaths, most of which have been in China, according to the most recent information from the World Health Organization (WHO), ONA reports.
A lot of that panic has to do with all of the unknown answers to questions the general public has about COVID-19—including the illness' survival rate, or how many people recover from the virus, versus how many people die from it. And unfortunately, there's still no clear-cut answer to that question, according to Jeremy Brown, MD, director of the Office of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health and author of Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History.
There's not enough information that's readily available yet to determine the true survival rate of COVID-19, says Dr. Brown, "but given the tens of thousands of people infected with the virus, the survival rate will be very, very high," he adds. Manisha Juthani, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, agrees. “It can be scary to watch the news and see the death toll rise from the coronavirus overseas. But we now know that most cases of coronavirus in China have been mild and less than 3% of patients have died,” she points out.
As for the data we do have, that information also shows a low fatality rate and high survival rate for COVID-19. In a new viewpoint article published February 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), authors looked at the case records of 72,314 patients, 44,672 of which were confirmed as having COVID-19. Of those confirmed cases, 36,160 cases, or 81%, showed only mild symptoms, while 14% were severe and 5% critical. The overall case-fatality rate, or coronavirus cases that ended in death, was only 2.3%, or 1,023 deaths out of 44, 672 confirmed cases.
Also worth noting, according Dr. Juthani: “[Coronavirus] appears to be more deadly for adults, especially those with other medical conditions"—no deaths have been reported in children, nor were any reported in those who had a mild or severe case of the illness. Dr. Brown also points out that those with chronic heart or lung problems and those who are immunocompromised are also at a higher risk of death.