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Stanford doctors: Coronavirus fatality rate may be far lower than current models predict

The two professors of medicine recalculate a new rate based on the prevalence rate of the disease, not reported cases

Published: March 26, 2020 1:10pm

Updated: March 26, 2020 1:27pm

The true fatality rate of the novel coronavirus may be much lower than current projections imply, according to two professors of medicine at Stanford University.

Dr. Eran Bendavid and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya postulate, in The Wall Street Journal, that the high estimated fatality rate of the coronavirus of 2%-4% is “deeply flawed.” They base their argument around the metrics of total individuals infected who die, rather than individuals with identified cases of the virus who have died.

“If the number of actual infections is much larger than the number of cases – orders of magnitude larger – than the true fatality rate is much lower as well,” the doctors write.

The numbers the doctors use to extrapolate their case come from Wuhan, the northeastern Italian town of Vò, and the NBA. According to their calculations, the prevalence rate of the coronavirus is much higher than the reported numbers in any country imply, and therefore the death rates are lower, relative to population infected.

They estimate that the epidemic could result in a national death tally of closer to 20,000-40,000, as opposed to the upper-limit estimates of several million, and a fatality rate of 0.01%.

“If we’re right about the limited scale of the epidemic, then measured focused on older populations and hospitals are sensible," conclude Bendavid and Bhattacharya. "A universal quarantine may not be worth the costs it imposes on the economy, community and individual mental and physical health.”

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