Explainer: Why the coronavirus death rate still eludes scientists

first_imgGlobal deaths from COVID-19 have reached 1 million, but experts are still struggling to figure out a crucial metric in the pandemic: the fatality rate – the percentage of people infected with the pathogen who die.Here is a look at issues surrounding better understanding the COVID-19 death rate.How is a death rate calculated? What is a “case fatality rate”?There has been an apparent decline in death rates when measured against the number of new infections confirmed by coronavirus testing. In places like the United States, that “case fatality rate” has fallen dramatically from 6.6% in April to just over 2% in August, according to Reuters statistics.But experts said that the decline has largely been driven by more widespread testing compared with the early days of the pandemic, detecting more people who have mild illness or no symptoms. Improvements in treating the severely ill and protecting some of the highest-risk groups, are also credited with improving survival.”We are much more aware of potential complications and how to recognize and treat them,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore. “If you are a patient who gets COVID-19 in 2020, you would much rather get it now than in March.”What does that mean for individuals, and governments?That highlights the need for continued vigilance, as some countries begin to experience a second wave of infections.For example, researchers in France estimate that country’s case fatality rate fell by 46% by the end of July compared with the end of May, driven by an increase in testing, improved medical care and a greater proportion of infections occurring in younger people, who are less likely to experience severe disease.”Now, we are seeing a fresh rise in hospitalizations and ICU [intensive care unit] registrations, which means this discrepancy is about to end,” said Mircea Sofonea, a researcher with Montpellier University in France. “We will have to understand why.” A true mortality rate would compare deaths against the total number of infections, a denominator that remains unknown because the full scope of asymptomatic cases is difficult to measure. Many people who become infected simply do not experience symptoms.Scientists have said the total number of infections is exponentially higher than the current number of confirmed cases, now at 33 million globally. Many experts believe the coronavirus likely kills 0.5% to 1% of people infected, making it a very dangerous virus globally until a vaccine is identified.Researchers have begun to break down that risk by age group, as evidence mounts that younger people and children are far less likely to experience severe disease.”The death rate for people below age 20 is probably one in 10,000. Over the age of 85 it is around one in 6,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Tottenham star Dele Alli gets Premier League suspension for social media post mocking coronavirus

first_imgThe excitement about the return to competition for the Premier League might be muted for Tottenham Hotspur fans after star midfielder Dele Alli received a one-game suspension for a SnapChat video he posted that was deemed “insulting” by the Football Association.The FA announced Thursday that Alli will be banned from the Spurs’ crucial June 19 game against Manchester United because of the video he posted that appeared to mock an Asian man and made light of the coronavirus, which became a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 people worldwide. That apology was not enough to avoid punishment from the FA, which released a statement:“The Tottenham Hotspur FC player denied that a social media post breached FA Rule E3(1), as it was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute, and constituted an ‘Aggravated Breach’, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference, whether express or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin and/or nationality. However, it was subsequently found proven by an independent Regulatory Commission.”Alli subsequently responded in a statement that he was relieved to be cleared of the racism charge and reiterated his apology for the “poorly judged joke about a virus that has now affected us more than we could ever have imagined. I’m grateful that the FA has confirmed that my actions were not racist because I despise racism of any kind. We all need to be mindful of the words and actions we use and how they can be perceived by others.” He also must pay a fine of $63,220 and go through a training course.Alli has started 20 Premier League games for Tottenham in 2019-20, scoring eight goals and assisting on four others. He is one of England’s top midfielders and started four games as they reached the semifinals at the 2018 World Cup.MORE: What to know about Premier League’s returnHis absence from Tottenham’s first game back will be particularly punitive. Spurs stand eighth in the Premier League with 41 points, four behind fifth-place Manchester United. With Manchester City banned from European competition for two seasons — that penalty is under appeal — fifth place currently represents a Champions League berth. Spurs could close the gap to a single point, but will have to do it without one of their best players.Alli’s video showed him in an airport wearing a protective facemask, then cut to a shot of an Asian man before sweeping to a shot of a bottle of hand sanitizer. There, the caption appeared: “This virus gunna have to be quicker than that to catch me.” Alli told the FA, according to Football London, he filmed the man in the video because he was coughing.The video was posted in early February and then quickly removed. Alli posted an apology video the next day, in which he acknowledged the original video “wasn’t funny” and explained that’s why he deleted it.“But, yeah, I let myself down, and the club,” he said. “I don’t want you guys to have that impression of me because it wasn’t funny, and I realized that straight away and took it down. It isn’t something that should be joked about. I’m sending all my love and all my thoughts and prayers with everyone in China.”last_img read more