COVID-19: Profile of a killer, new IFR estimate from Germany, and Merkel accelerates reopening

Profile of a killer: the complex biology powering the coronavirus pandemic David Cyranoski, writing in Nature, offers what I think might be the single best summary of what we know about SARS CoV-2. Interestingly, Klaus Stöhr, who was head of the World Health Organization’s SARS research and epidemiology division, offers some perspective that echoes my…

COVID-19: The forgotten victims

I’ve written previously about the massive public health impact of government responses to the pandemic: The United Nations estimates that global poverty trends will be reversed for the first time since 1998, pushing “half a billion people into destitution.” The World Health Organization recently warned that lockdown-induced shortages and disruptions in vaccine distribution (reported in…

COVID-19 is not the “great equalizer”

Maria Abi-Habib writing for NYT, “For the first time since 1998, the World Bank says, global poverty rates are forecast to rise. By the end of the year, half a billion people may be pushed into destitution, largely because of the pandemic, the United Nations estimates. … Since 2000, Bangladesh brought 33 million people —…

COVID-19: How unusual is the age distribution of deaths?

The University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine recently compared the age distribution of COVID-19 deaths with deaths from the 2009 flu pandemic (which is estimated to have killed 150,000-575,000 worldwide).1 One remarkable aspect of the 2009 flu was that it resulted in disproportionately greater mortality among younger and generally healthier people than in a…

COVID-19: Have high hospitalization rates made things worse?

While the 2002-2004 SARS coronavirus typically led to more severe clinical presentation than seen with COVID-19 (14-20% of patients required ventilatory support, and the case fatality rate was 9.2% compared to 4.1% and 5.6% respectively for COVID-19),1 this actually contributed to effective containment of the outbreak. High rates of nosocomial transmission and severity of presentation…

COVID-19: Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine estimates global infection fatality rate of 0.29%

The University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine offers an extensive assessment of COVID-19 mortality and infection data in its article on Global Covid-19 Case Fatality Rates, updated daily. “Comparison with Swine Flu The overall case fatality rate as of 16 July 2009 (10 weeks after the first international alert) with pandemic H1N1 influenza varied…

COVID-19: Did the Spanish Flu kill “an estimated 2 to 3 percent of those infected”?

Within the past few weeks, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, commenters in news media have propagated a meme that’s now firmly embedded in the public consciousness. It’s best summed up in an article in Vox that’s typical of the trend, “Did the coronavirus get more deadly? The death rate, explained.”1 The Vox…

COVID-19: Mathematical models in the face of uncertainty

A study recently released by Imperial College London has been heavily reported in the media; the authors estimate that in the absence of mitigation, COVID-19 could claim the lives of 510,000 people in Great Britain and 2.2 million people in the United States by the end of August.1 A collaborative study overseen by Columbia University…

Coronavirus in Italy – Report From The Front Lines

A JAMA livestream from March 13: Insights from Maurizio Cecconi, MD, of Humanitas University in Milan, at the epicenter of the pandemic where the overwhelming majority of Italy’s COVID-19 cases are being treated. Some important points: Despite reports from China, the Italian experience so far is that the clinical picture is like any other interstitial…