Estimates of Coronavirus Deadliness Compared to Flu

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention puts the overall death rate for the coronavirus ncov-19 at 2.3%. Vital Surveillances: The Epidemiological Characteristics of an Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) — China, 2020.

A total of 72,314 patient records—44,672 (61.8%) confirmed cases, 16,186 (22.4%) suspected cases, 10,567 (14.6%) clinically diagnosed cases (Hubei Province only), and 889 asymptomatic cases (1.2%)—contributed data for the analysis. Among confirmed cases, most were aged 30–79 years (86.6%), diagnosed in Hubei (74.7%), and considered mild (80.9%). A total of 1,023 deaths occurred among confirmed cases for an overall case fatality rate of 2.3%. The COVID-19 spread outward from Hubei Province sometime after December 2019, and by February 11, 2020, 1,386 counties across all 31 provinces were affected. The epidemic curve of onset of symptoms peaked around January 23–26, then began to decline leading up to February 11. A total of 1,716 health workers have become infected and 5 have died (0.3%).

There were about 15,000 non-mild cases which resulted in 1023 deaths. 6.82% fatality rate.
The flu in the US has 12 million cases that need some medical attention with up to 36,000 deaths. This is a 0.3% fatality rate. The coronavirus statistics could be missing many mild cases. The number of deaths from coronavirus has increased to almost 2000. Only about 20% of the severe cases have fully recovered at this point.

If the non-mild coronavirus cases need hospitalization, then the 6.82% fatality rate compares to the flu where up to 36,000 of 440,000 hospitalizations die which is an 8% fatality rate.

The CDC estimates the current flu as having 0.1% fatality.

The case fatality rate of COVID-19 appeared to be about 2.5 percent. The case fatality rate for the seasonal flu in the United States ranges between 0.10 percent and 0.18 percent. For SARS, it’s about 10 percent and for MERS it is about 35 percent. For Ebola, it has varied between 25 percent and 90 percent, depending on outbreaks, averaging approximately 50 percent.

John Hopkins has a real-time coronavirus tracker.

• Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
• Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
• Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
• People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover
coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
• Within health care facilities, enhance standard infection prevention and control practices in hospitals, especially
in emergency departments.


As a betacoronavirus, the 2019-nCoV has an envelope and round or oval particles with a diameter of 60-140nm, and is often polymorphic. The genetic characteristics of the 2019-nCoV are significantly different from SARSr-CoV and MERSr-CoV. Current researches have shown that it has a homology of more than 85% with bat SARS-like coronavirus (batSL-CoVZC45).

When isolated and cultured in vitro, 2019-nCoV can be found in human respiratory epithelial cells in about 96 hours.

2019-nCoV is sensitive to ultraviolet rays and heat, and can be effectively inactivated at 56°C for 30 minutes and lipid solvents such as ether, 75% ethanol, chlorine-containing disinfectants, peracetic acid, and chloroform. Chlorhexidine cannot effectively inactivate the virus.

Based on the current epidemiological investigations, the incubation period ranges from 1 to 14 days, mostly between 3-7 days.

The main clinical manifestations of 2019-nCoV infection are fever, fatigue and dry cough. A few patients also develop other symptoms such as nasal obstruction, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea. In many severe patients, dyspnea and/or hypoxemia occurs after one week, and those critical cases can quickly progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, and metabolic acidosis and coagulation dysfunction that are difficult to be corrected. Notably, severe and critical patients may have moderate to low-grade fever or even no obvious fever during the course of the disease.

Mild cases only show low-grade fever, mild fatigue, and no signs of pneumonia.

Judging from the cases being treated, most patients have good prognosis, and a few patients are critically ill. Poor prognosis is more common in the elderly and those with underlying chronic conditions, and pediatric cases have relatively mild symptoms.

SOURCES- CDC, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, New York Times
Written By Brian Wang,