Trump Says the COVID-19 Death Rate Will Be 'A Fraction of 1 Percent.' Is He Right?

It's too early to tell, but there are reasons for (relative) optimism.


President Donald Trump opined this week that the U.S. death rate from COVID-19 would turn out to be "a fraction of 1 percent." At least one authority—University of Pennsylvania vaccine expert Paul A. Offit—agrees. "I think he's right," he told, adding that there has been a "wild overreaction" to the disease largely because it is new. "We're more the victim of fear than the virus," he said.

Are Trump and Offit right?

Confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the U.S. number around 250 so far, and 14 people have died of the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the virus. Crudely, these data would yield a truly frightening mortality rate of more than 5 percent. In contrast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the current death rate from this season's influenza epidemic is between 0.05 and 0.10 percent. The global case fatality rate for the most severe pandemic in recent history, the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, was between 3 and 6 percent; the rate was around 2.4 percent in the United States.

So are we facing an epidemic comparable to 1918 or something more like a severe flu season? "Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected," declared World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this week. According to the latest data, more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 around the world have been confirmed, resulting in 3,408 deaths so far. Simple math yields the 3.4 percent death rate cited by Dr. Tedros.

If that's the right figure, then we're headed toward Spanish flu death rates. But before dousing yourself continually with Purell, note that the critical caveat is "reported" COVID-19 cases. Most experts believe the number of unreported cases is large. So far it appears that at least 80 percent of infected people exhibit mild or even no symptoms, and thus are unlikely to have come in contact with medical surveillance systems.

The fact that the U.S. lags in testing for the virus means that public health officials do not have a good idea of just how many Americans are already infected. That makes it difficult to estimate the disease's real mortality rate. In contrast, South Korea has been more aggressive, testing more than 140,000 people for the virus. Doctors there have confirmed more than 6,000 cases, yielding a fatality rate of 0.6 percent.

Interestingly, if the estimate that as many as 1,500 cases are currently undetected in Washington state, the 14 deaths (8 of whom were residents of the Life Care nursing home) reported there yields a case-fatality rate of just over 0.9 percent. Aboard the once quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, 707 passengers contracted the illness and so far 6 have died, yielding a death rate of 0.85 percent. That rate is unlikely to be representative, since COVID-19 is much riskier for older people and the ages of cruise passengers skew older.

A new report by researchers in Hong Kong estimate a symptomatic case-fatality rate of 1.4 percent. This is considerably lower than the WHO's 3.4 percent death rate. And again, it does not account for infected folks whose symptoms are mild or absent.

A preliminary modeling study by European researchers estimated that the undetected rate of coronavirus infection could be 20 times higher than the number of confirmed cases. If this is so, they write, that yields "a much lower mortality rate, which according to our computations is of the order of 0.15%." That would make the death rate for a coronavirus epidemic similar to that of a severe flu season.

One caution: A higher percentage of the population would be vulnerable to coronavirus infection, since flu epidemics are blunted by the fact that millions of us get our annual vaccinations. There will be no vaccine against this virus for at least 12 months.

"The best estimates now of the overall mortality rate for COVID-19 is somewhere between 0.1 percent and 1 percent," said Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, at a press conference yesterday. The good news is that as more testing data comes in, the lower the mortality rate for COVID-19 falls.

Disclosure: As I report this, I am self-isolated with a bad cold which could well be caused by one of the four human coronavirus strains that are thought to be responsible for about 15 percent of adult common colds.

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  1. Well, Orange Man never tells the truth, so NOW is it time to be concerned?

    1. In true libertarian fashion, I intend to voluntarily self-quarantine self-medicate with copious amounts of sanitizer.

      1. eigthy proof EtOH is a fine sanitiser. Of course, the downside of purchasing that in MY state is the tax on a package of that controlled substance runs roughly three times the cost of the identical substance in other states.

    2. Unlike you, Orange Man is trying to keep people calm and stop a useless PANIC! Wise idea.

      1. All Orange Man cares about is the economy because if it tanks he loses for sure.

      2. Wise idea, stupid approach. One of the most critical things is honesty, something foreign to the President. Another important point to calming people is bringing them together, you know the “we are all in this together and we will get through it”, again something foreign to the President’s nature. I don’t think its in President’s character to handle this type of problem. My suggestion would be hand it all over to VP Pence and then disappear for 60 days.
        By the way the President’s probably right about <1% but we are unlikely to know because he administration blew the testing. When you have a limited testing capacity you test the most sick and this skews the results. Had they been ready to test they could get a broader group of people and a more realistic result.

        1. Did the admin blow testing? America has not put any cities and states in official quarantine, and (for all intent and purposes) it’s harder to set up public testing stations and randomly test people without their consent.

          People are patting Korea on the back as if they’ve done something commendable. Um, no.

          Their incompetent government acted too late to spread of the virus (their big cities have a sizable Chinese population) and now they’re acting in sheer panic to get testing and shutting things down. Some of their businesses are going under, and when the oligarchies that run their entire economy can’t get supplies from China, their entire economy will suffer. Oh, and those testing and free masks they give cost money. They’re only free in Bernie Sander’s magic land.

          They tested more people, but 99% of those who tested positive were probably in no danger of losing their lives. The symptoms are mostly mild. So saying that like 14 people dying out of a 140,000 tested individuals amounts to “plummeting death rate” is just….. weird math. We have nearly 8 time their population and less people have died.

    3. Baily wrote:

      1,500 cases … 14 deaths … yields a case-fatality rate of just over 0.9 percent

      This is just plain wrong. Deaths / cases is the Case Fatality Rate *after an epidemic has ended*.

      Current deaths are the outcome of a total case figure that is in the past (probably 4-6 weeks in the past for Coronavirus), and the case figure is increasing exponentially.


  2. Doctors there have confirmed more than 6,000 cases, yielding a fatality rate of 0.6 percent.

    This is really the best news I’ve heard. A modern country, unlikely to lie about its results have a confirmation rate with solid statistics.

    So, time for some table napkin math.

    Again, 5-20% of the American public gets the flu every year. If 10% of the public contracted Coronavirus, it looks like the US could lose as many as 198,000 people. That’s pretty bad compared to “seasonal flu”. I’ll let everyone else debate if that comes up to “a particularly bad season”. But it’s way fewer than we’d lose at a 2.3 or *shudder* 3.6% fatality rate.

    I do have faith in America’s healthcare system to deal with this.

    1. And that 0.6% fatality is among confirmed cases. Consider that many cases will go unconfirmed because people will simply think they have a flu or only show mild symptoms and not bother to get tested. (believe it or not, not everyone is panicking because they coughed)

      The number of fatalities however, will be largely accurate, as anyone who is so severely ill that they die will likely have gotten tested (even if it was only an autopsy after the fact)

      1. South Korea has been testing many more people which is why the mortality rate plummeted. In the US we have not. There probably are many more infected and don’t know it or have even recovered without incident. What’s curious about this disease is who is vulnerable. Your risk skyrockets after age 60. I’m also wondering if it’s easier to become infected with the virus with age also.

    2. DR(P): As aggressive in testing as South Korea has been I suspect that the undetected case rate is much higher and therefore the case-fatality rate will ultimately be considerably lower than 0.6 percent.

      1. Ron,

        How much error would we assume to be in the denominator for the historical comparisons? In other words, I would assume that the number of deaths from Spanish Flu was relatively accurate, but wouldn’t there be a similarly high rate of undetected/undiagnosed infections?

        1. times and protocols in the time of the spanish flu in the US were VERY different. LIttle was understood about disease transmission, no antivirals existed, poor health and sanitary protocols… remember, the death rate from TB used to be VERY high few people ever recoverd. Read some of the details of that spanish flu, frightening stuff. Read some of the details of what has been going in in Wuhan province China since last Setpember or so and compare to our midwest at the time and place of that spanish flu, which was in fact a swine flu.
          Few contracted that disease here in the US that survived. If you got it, you were likely amongst those counted in the death toll.

        2. Cases of asymptomatic flu are uncommon; for corona, the great majority of infections appear to be asymptomatic.

      2. According to the Most Level Headed Man on Youtube, he says he “expects 60 to 80% of the population in his country to contract this disease”.

        A. Let’s hope he’s wrong.
        B. If he’s right, I go back to my original hope that even a .6% CFR ends up being very, very high.

        1. first he forgets that WHO are all about exercising control over whatever populatioins they can.

          second, he fails to take into consideration the seasonal aspect of ALL the other corona virus diseases. Here in the US, the winter seasonis just now winding down, we should be out of the high season by the end of this month.
          Third, he also fails to consider the facts that people in more northerly areas (Scotland, Wuhan Province, Korea, the Pacific Northwest, Canada, you get the picture) tend to stay indoors most time in the winter months, tend to heavily cover up when they DO go outside, and thus become deficient in Vitamin D. Note this: Wuhan City has historically exhibited the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency of any population on the planet. Add to that poor diet, and the business with the swine flu to which I alluded above…. its no wonder that virus took off in that area. Further, the CHinese totalitarian government VERY concerned about saving face (as are chinese by culture) failed to act appropriately as things began to progress.

          I did not watch the entire utube vid of the Scotsman, but he seems to be simply swallowing the proffered soup, trusting those who have cooked it up for him.

          and lastly I note with disgust that NO government agency is offering ANY protocols that offer any signficant hope of not contracting in the first place, contracting mildly if contracted, or quickly recovering to full health if infected.
          There is a guy out there named Bill Sardi, go find him and read some of his recent assessment of this whole situation. HE makes sense, this guy does not. He has carefully compared this virus and disease with the spanich flu about a hundred years ag and with SARS and MERS… and the likely complicity with TB bacteria. He’s not the only one, I’ve just come across a few of his pieces.

          1. For vulnerable populations, stay out of crowds and wash your hands. Sneeze into your sleeve, don’t touch your face. For those under 30, don’t assume that because you don’t feel particularly ill that you aren’t capable of infecting someone else. Same applies.

    3. “I do have faith in America’s healthcare system to deal with this.”

      One sticky topic likely to come up more and more, is who pays for government mandated medical care? If you are forced into quarantine and forced to take a Covid test, who pays?

      1. If you’re insured, the hospital will try to collect from them. Otherwise they’d probably just eat the cost. If things got really bad, the government would probably bail them out.

        You may recall when Gov. McFattyfat (R-NJ) quarantined a nurse who didn’t have Ebola. She didn’t pay for it.

      2. I don’t know PJ (Pedo Jeffy), how do they do it in Toronto?

        1. Bi-lingually.

      3. “” If you are forced into quarantine and forced to take a Covid test, who pays?”‘

        It should be those who forced you.

    4. This is really the best news I’ve heard. A modern country, unlikely to lie about its results have a confirmation rate with solid statistics.

      Gosh, I wish we had one of those!

      1. We may get there yet. It does look like the US is finally testing people over the last couple days. On the down side, the number of confirmed non-repatriated cases has gone from 85 to 320 (327 as I reload). With I suspect at least 1000 more currently. And growing from that larger newly-discovered base not the previously-known base.

        So I guess its a question of how long we can take the bad news before we decide that lying to the public is easier.

      2. “Gosh, I wish we had one of those!”

        If you weren’t too stupid to find your way to an airport, you could move to one of those places you find better.
        And I for one would thank you for fucking off.

    5. The problem is that the only reason 10% of the public gets flu/cold each year is because much of the ‘herd’ has immunity from having been exposed last year or the year before or whenever.

      NO ONE has immunity to this one. So for this first go-round, there will be no herd immunity. It will hit much like the first wave of smallpox hit native Americans.

      Assuming that 10% of the public gets the disease every year may well be reasonable if the immunity rates/terms are comparable to flu/cold. But this first go-round, it will have to hit 60% or 80% or 90% of people before herd immunity kicks in for the first time. And at rates anywhere near that it will also completely swamp hospitals ten times over – which means much less treatment even for the serious cases. The Chinese did the big CFR study on this a few weeks ago.

      Assume 80% of peeps get infected over the next 18 months (earliest realistic vaccine):
      CFR of roughly 0.2% among under-35’s – roughly 143 million peeps = 229k dead
      CFR of roughly 0.4% among 35-54 – roughly 82 million peeps = 262k dead
      CFR of roughly 1.3% among 55-64 – roughly 42 million peeps = 437k dead
      CFR of say 3.6% (lower than China) among over 65’s – roughly 51 million peeps = 1.47 million dead.
      In both those two older groups, I expect the fatalities will skew heavily towards those with co-morbidities – not just ‘age’. And yeah – there would be 100 million + who get a case so mild they might not even know they have it.

      This is worst case type stuff – with hospitals overwhelmed, ICU’s full, and therefore triage and death panels happening at the hospital entrance. Even if the CV-19 doesn’t kill at that CFR rate (there are apparently two genetic strands already – one less deadly than the other and the early Wuhan version is the deadlier strand) – it will still overwhelm hospitals so that the other stuff peeps go to hospital for will get pushed out so peeps would die more of that other stuff. No way anyone will confuse this for flu season.

      Obviously subsequent years would drop dramatically – but this again bad case is a very possible cost of establishing ‘herd immunity’. We Americans are simply not used to really thinking of epidemics. To date – we are not remotely responding as if this is a potential epidemic where no one has immunity. Not the govt. Not local communities. Not people (hoarding toilet paper and batteries?!?! WTF).

      Tell me if my calcs are wrong.

      1. NO ONE has immunity to this one. So for this first go-round, there will be no herd immunity. It will hit much like the first wave of smallpox hit native Americans.

        Understood and agree.

        if the immunity rates/terms are comparable to flu/cold. But this first go-round, it will have to hit 60% or 80% or 90% of people before herd immunity kicks in for the first time.

        I can’t comment on this, because I’m not knowledgeable enough to know, but it seems reasonable.

        However, what you say matches up with my link above to The Most Level Headed Man on Youtube, Dr. John Campbell.

        Assume 80% of peeps get infected over the next 18 months (earliest realistic vaccine):
        CFR of roughly 0.2% among under-35’s – roughly 143 million peeps = 229k dead [etc.]

        Trust me, I’ve done all the table napkin calculations and I know exactly how many expected dead at the LOW range of infection rate and even modest CFR, well below the 2.3-3.6% global CFR.

        I’m merely hoping that when we combine first world medical practices/hygene with better tracking, that as some critics have speculated, that the actual CFR will be much, much lower.

        it will still overwhelm hospitals so that the other stuff peeps go to hospital for will get pushed out so peeps would die more of that other stuff. No way anyone will confuse this for flu season.

        Yes, been following the statistics closely. Different countries will be able (or not able) to handle this at varying rates. One statistic I heard was an ICU rate of over 8% and many European countries will be overwhelmed. That’s not death rate, that’s just the rate of people who warrant Intensive Care treatment.

        I don’t know how hard it would be to overwhelm the US system. I suspect much harder because we DON’T have an NHS style system and therefore have far more medical facilities stretched across a wider area as opposed to a few concentrated medical facilities in mainly urban areas.

        Tell me if my calcs are wrong.

        I didn’t go through them but I’ve done enough myself, they look correct to me.

        1. ICU rate of over 8% and many European countries will be overwhelmed

          I don’t know relative ICU ‘density’. But re hospital beds/1000 peeps, we are actually at the low end. More than UK, Canada, Sweden. Fewer than everybody else – and much fewer than Korea/Japan (both places seem to have a culture of going to hospital just for kicks/vacation). The means by which we handle that lower density is by much shorter hospital stays than most everyone. Faster volume/flow.

          Unfortunately, that’s exactly where an epidemic/quarantine breaks the productivity/efficiency model. I don’t see the management technique that will convince viruses in America to work more quickly so we can fill the beds with the next set of patients.

          This system overwhelm is gonna require building new capacity. Beds, ICU’s, etc. It’s the reason I think Germany is gonna do better than most in Europe. They already have long hospital stays, lots of beds, and ‘alternative’ places that could be converted. And their Mittelstand mean they won’t have to depend on global supply chains for any needed high tech stuff. For a lot of this sort of niche stuff – those companies ARE the global supply chain.

          1. Yearly flu vaccinations only give partial immunity to whatever evolved version of the flu for this year. Finding a way to treat COVID 19 would be more effective than a vaccination. As well as other preventative measures.

        2. NO ONE has immunity to this one. So for this first go-round, there will be no herd immunity. It will hit much like the first wave of smallpox hit native Americans.

          NOT TRUE.
          Remember then they tested for CoV on the cruise ships? Quite a number of people tested positive, and NEVER showed any symptoms, WHAT do they test for? Presence of ANTIBODIES to the nCoV. Well, HOW then could anyone have antibodies if they NEVER got sick, no sypmtoms whatever, ever? Simle… they’d been exposed and their immune systems correctly identified the nCoV as a threat, began producing antibodies for it, and neutralised enough of the invading individual virus cells that they could not reproduce quickly enough to reach critical mass, and the rest were eaten alive by the blood components that do those sorts of things, because they’d been tagged with the antibodies. This is precisely the reaction a vaccine is attempting to instill.. and when successful, a vaccinated person will not fall ill to the disease.

          HOW could this happen you ask? Simple… our bodies, when functioning properly idntify ALL threats and respond accordingly, neutralising them before harm is done. Those folks now can NEVER succumb to the nCoV. The HAVE immunity, so don’t tel me NO ONE has immunity.

          1. There is no antibody test yet. Only an antigen (directly testing for the virus itself) test. Still too early for the antibody test since you need a lot of known recovered beforehand to know what to test for. When we get an antibody test, it will be a Chinese or Korean or maybe Italian company that will own that market long-term. The US response of home isolation means we are not really tracking anyone to know when they are known to recover. Which is why we have fewer known recovered than dead.

      2. That’s not right. The reason influenza is such a problem is that it mutates so rapidly. That’s also the reason we have to get new flu shots every year. Last year’s flu gives you little to no protection from this year’s version. Effectively no one has immunity from year to year. While you are correct that there is no significant herd immunity to this coronavirus, there is no significant herd immunity at the start of each influenza season either.

        To the extent that there is any limited immunity based on similarities from one influenza virus to the next, remember that we are also constantly exposed to different coronaviruses. There is no biological reason to expect any less cross-strain protection from corona than we see cross-strain protection from influenza.

        Your mistaken analogy about herd immunity undercuts your starting assumption of an 80% infection rate.

        1. That’s also the reason we have to get new flu shots every year

          maybe YOU do, but I never get them at all ever. My Dad got them faithfully every year, they were “free” from his company medical coverage, even in retirement. Two shots per year minimum, over about forty years. Mercury and/or aluminium in every one of them. He died a slow and miserable death wasting away from Parkinson’s. He ALSO got the flu, really badly, every two to three years. But he trusted the system, failed to see though it (follow the money) and it cost him The Big One.

          I am NOT going down that road, thanks all the same.

          ANyone can beat the flu game, including this nCoV bug, by doing some common sense things. I do them, and almost never get sick with anything, and when I do, the same bug that has everyone else flat on their back for ten days to two weeks, has me maybe on half-throttle for a day or so, then near fuly functional whilst symptomatic for maybe two days more, then its gone. I have NEVER gotten any of those annual flus, ever. And I am in the age group where the medical profession are always after me to get these tests (when they add them to other panels, the results always come back just fine), they marvel that I never get sick, at least with contagious stuff.. hernias, which run in my family both sides, a broken rib from a nasty freak fall whilst working with machinery. toenail fungus….. (hah, grade school kids get those) and they they DO put me on a treadmill, they always make me hold such a low pace I never get my heartrate up to where I work it myself for hours at a stretch, and think they worked me hard. Barely a sweat, resting rate in <60 seconds. I don;t tell them I can stil get on a road bike and knock off fifty miles in under three hours. I don't want them to try and get me committed for abusing myself!!!!! They are on a need to know basis.

          Regular exercise, (vigourouslhy, half an hour straight at least, three times per week is my goal) eat right (avoid processed starches and sugars, almost all grains, white rice, boiled potatoes, processed foods, the stuff that comes in all the colourful boxes, balance the three macronutrient classes every time I eat, no binge eating (sure, eat the chips, IF they're clean of chemicals, cooked in a healthjy oil, but not very many, and along with other stuff). take vitamin D (5000IU per day maintenance dose, any symptoms at all, boost to 60,000 IU per day untll symptoms disappear), and C (1000 mg/day, at symtoms increase to6,000 mg/day. Lots of fresh or lightly cooked vegetables, fresh raw fruit, or dried. Whole nuts, fish, an no viral infections, despite occasional KNOWN exposure.

          Our CDC are more dedicated to their control tactics, making a big media splash, spending cubic millions, and pushing lots of business toward their bedmates in the pharmaceutical workld, which pushes back more to CDC, etc. Just read about a woman who had worked high up in CDC, retired from there, and now works for the very drug company she partnered with whilst she was at CDC, she has in the past few months sold off a fraction of her stocks, all bought on her options from the company she now works for, WHILE she was working for CDC. Ya think there MIGHT be a touch of something between cross-pollination and collusion here? She netted eight figures west of the decimal point And ya think Ima gonna trust either CDC or the pharma companies? Not in this life…..

          1. Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. There is more aluminum in the salad you ate for lunch than in all the immunizations your father got over the course of his life combined. There is no evidence whatsoever that those vaccinations contributed to his unfortunate demise; in fact, they probably prolonged his life by sparing him the horrors of secondary pneumonia, one of the most common causes of death among seniors. I also call bullshit on your claim that he received flu shots twice a year.

            You do not have a solid grasp of human physiology, much less pathophysiology. You simply don’t know what you’re talking about; meanwhile you’re making risky decisions based on your ignorance and advising others to do the same. You’re a perfect example of Dunning-Kruger in action.

      3. You do realize flu strains change from year to year and the entire flu shot is a guess as to which strain right? Well no, you dont seem to understand.

        1. I thought they were mutations on the previous year giving some amount of immunity. Going to have to do more reading I guess.

          1. They are in a sense. But they generally have similar genetic parts which the vaccines target. It is largely a guess however based on early flu cases. As mentioned, the coronavirus is a mutation from a strain that has previously existed. SARS was the same.

            This strain just seems to exacerbate lung issues in elderly and patients who ready have lung problems.

            1. Thanks Jesse.

        2. You do realize THIS AIN’T THE FUCKING FLU.

          Flu viruses do mutate from year to year – but from different serotypes/strains to begin with. So each year’s flu ‘cocktail’ is trivalent/quadrivalent – addressing mutations of the particular serotypes/strains that are expected to be dominant in the coming year. And the vaccine DOES in fact create a herd immunity of some level (roughly 30%-70% depending on age group) to start the season – which is very different than starting from zero.

          Which is ALL irrelevant because as I said this ain’t the fucking flu. This is coronavirus. There is no vaccine for any coronavirus. Not the four mild strains that cause colds or the serious deadly – and both quite ‘flawed’ – ones (SARS/MERS) that have been studied for years. Studied by people a lot smarter than you who understand that coronavirus ain’t even in the same order of viruses as influenzavirus. Meaning the two are no more related than are humans to bats or squirrels.

          I suspect however that this confusion is why both Korea and China are quite unique in their degree of seriousness and approach re how they are dealing this outbreak. Everyone outside those two (and Saudi) has virtually no actual experience with deadly forms of coronavirus. So they have gotten lazy and are letting this outbreak be an excuse for the usual BS and hype about an imminent coronavirus vaccine. China (with SARS) and Saudi/Korea (with MERS) understand that until you have a vaccine, hyping a future vaccine is not actually a means of dealing with a deadly viral epidemic.

          1. It is amazing how ignorant you are, no wonder you are crying like a scared bitch.


            Sars is literally Cov2 dumbfuck.

            1. No vaccine for SARS 1 after 18 years of study. You really comfortable assuming this one (which in fact only shares 70% of genetic sequence with SARS1) will magically have vaccine in the course of a hard-working all-nighter?

              1. The vast majority domt need a vaccine. You really do seem ignorant on the actual facts which I’ve already linked. Most people dont get the flu shot either dummy. And last year they even had the wrong strain coverage. Oh noes.

                But it is nice to see you walk back your herd mentality bullshit. People get the virus all the damn time. Thos is just a mutated strain just like the flu, which is why the comparison is made.

                And since you seem ignorant… the flu vaccine is not 100% effective even though you see to infer it is.

          2. More types for your ignorant ass to be wrong about.


            1. Cool. Yet another list of coronaviruses we’ve known about for years — with no vaccines whatsoever. A vaccine for this new one should be a snap.

              1. Did you or did you not make a herd immunity claim? The claim only works if you dont think humans have experienced coronavirus before. They have. Just like the flu.

                Your entire premise is predicated on ignorance.

          3. More.

            coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous.


            You ignorant know nothing.

            1. No vaccine for all those ‘common cold’ coronas either. Big market too – and been around for decades. But hey – I’m sure this corona is much easier.

              1. You made the claim about herd immunity you ignorant dumbfuck. Are you admitting you were wrong?

                Most people survive the flu, yet you dismiss that as a comparison. Because you’re ignorant.

            2. People die of the common cold every year. It’s not as benign as people make it out to be. Sure, if you are young and have no co-morbidities, it likely represents little to no threat to you individually, but that doesn’t mean the grey-hairs in the local nursing home can afford to take it lightly.

          4. Spanish flu mortality rate: 2.5% largely killed healthy adults between 20 and 40.

            Swine flu: estimated global infection rate of 10-20% but only a .1% mortality rate.

            So far Covid19 has spread fairly decently, but slower than swine flu, and has a targeted death rate of mostly only sick or older people with pre existing health concerns. As of last week no child under 14 had died from it, I havent looked this week.

            Basically you’re an ill informed person cowering in the closet.

          5. A large study in China found that about 80% of confirmed cases had fairly mild symptoms (defined as no significant infection in the lungs). About 15% had severe symptoms that caused significant shortness of breath, low blood oxygen or other lung problems, and fewer than 5% of cases were critical,


          6. Deaths are highest in the elderly, with very low rates among younger people, although medical staff who treat patients and get exposed to a lot of virus are thought to be more at risk. But even among the over-80s, 90% will recover.

          7. SARS was a corona virus variant and was MANUFACTURED. It did have a vaccine developped against it, which had some success. I read a report that SARS is now gone, there has not been ONE positive test for it in the past four years. It has disappeared from human blood.

            MERS is another coronavirus. And so is this nCoV 19. MERS is very probably manmade, but this has not been conclusively established. nCoV also is quite probably manmade. There seems to be a stretch in the genome coding that is identical to that of a totally different virus, far too long a stretch to be “accidental” or “chance”. It is thought to have been developed in one of the level 4 biolabs in Wuhan City. Whether and how it may have been released, and why, is not likely to be conclusively known very soon. Too”hot” an issue This new nCoV deminstrates very frequent mutation, and seems unlikey to be stable enough to be a serious health threat llong term.. just like SARS, which has disappeared in somewhere around a decade.

            Think back over the past quarter century or so… SARS, MERS, Ebola, Zika, Swine, and a couple more I”ve forgotten about, were all gonna decimate the planet, billions dead, life as we know it gone…….. within one generation.
            And the silly girl from Sweden has everyone all uptight about carbon dioxide in the air, and people buy THAT fairy tale? This one is no different.

            1. Can we please ban this conspiracy theory-peddling fool? The nonsense he parrots isn’t just laughably wrong—it’s dangerous and can get people killed.

            2. Tionico
              March.7.2020 at 3:33 am
              “SARS was a corona virus variant and was MANUFACTURED.

              Unsupported assertions are known as bullshit, bullshitter.

      4. JF: Considering that the 1918 Spanish flu infected about 28% of the US population your 80% infection assumption seems a tad high. The typical rate for seasonal flu is 10 to 15%.

        Also I did caution that the coronavirus epidemic would not be blunted by a vaccine as seasonal flu outbreaks are now. As you note the basic reproduction rate is key here.

        1. I agree 80% is high. I just don’t see what’s going to stop it other than whatever the natural herd immunity is that drives its RO below 1. I’m not sure what the math is to calc that. But whatever it is it’s going to have to be a more global immunity now as well because our extent of daily contact now is far wider than 1918 (except for soldiers then)

          My bigger concern is that ‘get a vaccine’ seems to be the default MO for our public health system. Probably has been since the childhood stuff in the 60’s. Lose that tool and they got nothing. The combo – people passively expecting a jab with a needle and the needle-jabbers clueless – well that’s why I think Korea is the model that works here. No accident imo that they are doing what they are doing because they had a deadly MERS outbreak so they are not gonna put their faith in a someday-vaccine and simply react until then.

    6. figures I’ve seen have the total deaths from the normal flus at about 160K. The numbers of deaths from complications of the vaccine supposedly to prevent the disease are higher than real expected deaths from CoV. 19.

    7. 20k people have now died of the seasonal influenza strain. C’mon Coronavirus, you’re slacking.

    8. Ascribing agency and volition to an entire country: the essence of fascism.

    9. I have to say that after initially being disgusted by my own country’s lack of action on Coronavirus, now that more data is available, I’m starting to believe that the entire thing is being seriously overhyped and that health officials were probably right not to overreact. I trust the numbers from South Korea — they’re technologically advanced and have a good healthcare system. Resources should be directed to protecting the vulnerable. Other than that, it seems like we are more at risk from getting injured in a toilet paper scrum at our local Costco than dying from Coronavirus.

  3. Hey, there is a buying opportunity in travel equities in about six weeks or maybe the spring 2021.

  4. So far it appears that at least 80 percent of infected people exhibit mild or even no symptoms, and thus are unlikely to have come in contact with medical surveillance systems.

    My MSNBC calculator computes that to a 20% fatality rate.

    1. That means 200 million people will die in the US!

      1. *2 billion (including illegals)

        1. We’re in real trouble, as this will be in addition to the 150 million deaths resulting from legal firearm ownership Biden told us about.

          1. then it looks like we’re going to have to open up those borders to get all those people in here to die, because there ain’t enough of us to fill the expected death quotas. Gotta go import more. Wouldn’t want the doomsayers proven wrong, now, would we? We GOTTA get enough people here to fill those death predictions.

            And some intelligent folks are poking fun at Miss Greta…. you know. we’ll all be dead in twelve years? She’s got nuttin on these doods. We all and a few hundred million more will be dead in five…..

      2. That means 200 million people will die in the US!

        Think of all the billions Bloomberg would’ve saved if he’d just given it straight to the surviving voters.

        1. According to Brian Williams, Bloomberg could give over a million dollars to every American just for the $500 million he spent on the campaign

    2. That no longer sends a tingle up my leg.

  5. This reasoning is flawed. If we’re going to assume that the COVID death rate is inflated because of unreported cases, shouldn’t we assume the same for other flu viruses/seasons? How many of us bother to report (even to our doctor) that we’ve got the flu? How many people actually got the Spanish flu in 1919, versus the number reported. It’s reasonable to assume that flu cases are always under-reported, and that while the actual severity of any of flu season is in question, the relative severity is reliable. Therefore COVID remains much more serious than typical, seasonal flu.

    1. The flu has been rather extensively studied over many, many years. Enough researchers have looked at it enough different ways that we’re pretty sure we have a good idea of the reported/unreported rates for influenza.

      Spanish flu was actually studied after the fact by looking for genetic markers within the bodies of survivors (and their decendents). We have a remarkably good idea of the number of people who contracted the Spanish flu – and know now how that number compares to the official reports of the time.

      So while there’s still the potential for some skewing of the data, it’s less than you think. Medical researchers know about this kind of data risk and have decent protocols for addressing it.

      1. Problem with that 1918 flu study is that we’ve always just assumed the H1N1 crossed the zoonotic in that timeframe. That’s the one that kicked off the entire ‘let’s develop a flu vaccine’ search so that’s the one that we’ve arbitrarily deemed year zero. We haven’t studied earlier flu epidemics (notably 1889, 1896, 1899) to see what subtype of flu virus was dominant.

        I have seen a credible hypothesis that one (not all – but a significant one) of the reasons the 1918 flu hit young adults hardest is because older folks then had some remaining immunity from (prob) the 1896 or 1899 epidemics. That would also change what we should have looked for re 1918 bodies/survivors AND older then-immune folks then who died of natural/other causes later. And the basic thesis of 1918 – that H1N1 may have simply morphed into a really deadly version in 1918 but was already human.

  6. I had hoped that this whole coronavirus thing would get people to take the flu seriously- ya know, stop sending little billy to visit grandpa at the retirement home when he has a fever, or work from home, etc. But in fact, this will likely have the opposite effect. People are going to see that all the media hysteria didn’t amount to shit, and they are going to never take viruses seriously again.

    Of course, on the other hand, maybe that is a good thing. Our great governor decided to strand thousands of people on a fucking boat indefinitely because some other people on that boat got sick and have been circulating in the general population for weeks. If that isn’t kabuki I don’t know what is.

  7. The good news is, so many people are panicking about this thing that I don’t have to.

  8. this is a numerator and denominator problem:
    – numerator: currently all people who decease WITH the corona virus are reported as having deceased FROM the virus. Given that most people who (unfortunately) die with the virus have multiple other serious conditions and the risk of contamination increasing with vulnerability it is very difficult to sustain that they died because of the virus. In Italy there are reports saying that only 10-20% of the registered deaths can really be attributed to the virus with the rest being people that died from other causes while having the virus.
    – denominator: lots of people with the virus without symptoms

    1. I agree with that. But data-wise, the newly introduced disease will be the one that best captures marginal increase in death rate. And for the denominator, it’s really kind of pointless to do that globally. Include China and you are making wild-ass guesses about their lockdown. Exclude China and you don’t have enough death rates yet for valid calcs.

      1. Not true. The most valid and transparent reports are coming out of S Korea. They are testing 10,000 people per day and to date have tested over 166,000 people so far. Leading epidemiologists and virologists from around the world have confirmed the validity of the tests and have reason to believe the world’s mortality rate is closer aligned with S Korea’s statistics since countries like the US and Iran others have not been testing extensively and those who are mildly sick are not reporting or being tested as well.

        1. Oh I totally agree that Korea is the one country outside China that is getting a handle on the denominator and is also very effective re the numerator.

          But they only have 50 total deaths – and breaking things down into subgroups (say by age since that pretty clearly has a big impact here) – that’s not enough fatalities for valid fatality stats. They’re gonna need about 250-300. Anything short of that and anyone from outside looking at the Korea data is simply trying to cherry-pick the best existing case – doing stuff that is absolutely unique in the world – and say ‘see this is what we’ll have too’.

          Italy is getting close to the valid minimum fatalities but they are focused on quarantine, lockdown, and reactivity – not testing exposure.

          I’d love to have ‘reason to believe’ that much of the rest of the world will do as well as Korea. But it ain’t so. It’s wishful thinking

  9. This is my panicked face.

  10. Disclosure: As I report this, I am self-isolated with a bad cold which could well be caused by one of the four human coronavirus strains that are thought to be responsible for about 15 percent of adult common colds.

    Which means you infected everyone in the Reason offices before you realized you were sick.

    1. “Which means you infected everyone in the Reason offices ….”

      In a podcast yesterday or the day before, it was stated that Reason has only a tiny HQ office, and that most of the correspondants and writers work remotely. Plus, Bailey isn’t really part of the Reason staff, just a contributing editor or such, IIRC.

  11. Don’t most left wingers believe there’s too many people in the world? I’m surprised that Paul Ehrlich and his disciples aren’t openly rooting for a much higher mortality rate!

    1. Paul Ehrlich is in that high risk category himself now. And I suspect when he was talking about decreasing population he was talking about OTHER people.

      1. He’s had ample opportunity to set an example, and seems to have chosen not to.

    2. We do, but we think it should be lowered by people having less babies, not culling.

      One wonders how many people will it take before you realize there are too many for this planet.

  12. President Donald Trump opined this week that the U.S. death rate from COVID-19 would turn out to be “a fraction of 1 percent.”

    Well, I’m convinced because Trump never tells a lie or just says dumb stuff when he has no knowledge of the subject.

    Should I fall back on my plan to move to a shack in Montana, stock up on supplies, and shoot anyone who comes near?

  13. quote: “That rate is unlikely to be representative, since COVID-19 is much riskier for older people and the ages of cruise passengers skew older.”

    I suppose the ages of the folks at the LIfe Care rest home in Kirkland tend to skew younger then?
    Fourteen cases, eight deaths, NONE under 15 years old, 1 between 15 and 60, all the rest above 60, and nearly all of those in terminal care facilities?

    Nah, I’m not worried a bit. Sarc never turned on. I’ve never once caught any of the annual flu bugs, the ones for which they constantly badger me to get the vaccine…… and from what I’ve seen the death to complications rate of those vaccines is higher than what the REAL rate for CoV seems to be.

    1. T: Just thought it would be a bit redundant to point out that folks in a nursing home tend to be somewhat elderly.

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  15. Fractions have been known to take on quite a wide range of values.

  16. yes, there are thousands of people who have it but don’t know it, whose symptoms are slight. So the death rate is much lower than currently calculated from known cases. Only people who are very sick are seeking medical care. Who wants to be quarantined for weeks if you can get better on your own?

    1. Likely there are BILLIONS who have it or have had it who took some Nyquil and lazed around for a few days–probably while worrying that the deadly coronavirus would get them while they were sick.

  17. This Dangerous virus day by day increasing and please follow some health tips watched on WhatsApp sniffer app recently.

    1. People who use the coronavirus scare for phishing are the lowest of the low and should be shot on sight.

  18. Ronald Bailey is a writer for Reason but he is not a scientist. In this article, he refers to “a preliminary modeling study” as if it were a source of sound reasoning, but offers no reason why it would be. Modeling is what pretend scientists and economists do when they want to legitimize their illegitimate guesses and predictions. He devotes his attention to different estimates of the “mortality rate” of coronavirus without addressing the most significant fact about the coronavirus, which is that, so far, the coronavirus is having very little impact on human health, with 100,000 reported infections worldwide and an estimated 3500 deaths, and 330 reported cases and 17 deaths in the U.S. Meanwhile, 800 people die in the U.S. each week from traffic accidents, and about 1000 are estimated to die each week from influenza during the flu season. 20 million or more people may have been infected with the flu this year in the U.S., and hundreds of millions of people have been infected worldwide. Why is there no panic over traffic or flu-related deaths?
    Why does the government not ban driving to stop traffic deaths and why not order people to stay home so they won’t catch the flu?
    Because we are used to the familiar risks of living and dying, and we know we have to work and travel to live. The coronavirus is new and made scary by governments and the media and “experts.” People can be easily frightened about what is new and unknown. We should learn to recognize when we are being manipulated by fear-mongers and alarmists. Then they can get on with living, adapting, surviving, and thriving.

    1. The modeling study agrees with you: it’s less risky than the media say.

      This modeling is fairly straightforward: it estimates statistically how much lower death rates are given the observed spread in populations, in particular among individuals without contacts.

  19. I am not “concerned” about the virus. Rather, I am deeply disappointed at such a low death rate – particularly after all the hysteria. I hope somebody cultures this baby up, and gene splices it with ebola and AIDS; THEN we might have some proper culling of overpopulated humans!

    1. There is no over-population.

      1. Yeah there is.

        Humanity has far outstripped what our natural population level should be.

  20. The most transparent and valid data set we have for covid-19 is coming out of S. Korea. Leading virologists and epidemiologists around the world have pointed to their impressive diagnostic lab capability. To date, they have tested over 166,000 people, 4238 have tested positive and 42 people have died. Scientists from Harvard, Vanderbilt University, University of Brisbane and various research groups have confirmed the reports are valid. Testing more people gives a more accurate picture of the mortality rate. And what scientists are finding is that when more people are tested, the lethality rate plummets to below 1%. It is believed that the virus has been circulating around the world now for weeks and there are many more people infected (and haven’t been tested), but are presenting as a mild flu or cold. In S Korea it is has held steady now at .66%. So while it is still too early to really be certain (we will have a better idea by the end of the month), scientists are optimistic that this virus while highly contagious is not particularly lethal. The average flu death rate is .1%, and scientists are beginning to believe this virus has a mortality rate more consistent with .5-.6%. It is milder than both SARS and definitely a fraction of MERS mortality rate. Many epidemiologists have said the panic about COVID-19 is “wildly over-exaggerated” and the media’s constant use of the word “deadly” in front of the virus creates unnecessary panic. So while I cannot normally say I believe Trump when he says something, he is probably correct this time around.

    1. They’re not PRESENTING as a ‘mild flu or cold’–they HAVE a ‘minor flu or cold’.

      Coronaviruses account for 15% of all cases of the common cold each year.

      Want to drop that mortality rate?

      The average person gets 2-3 colds EVERY YEAR.

      That’s 14-21 billion cases every year. 15% of that is
      1.92- -3.15 billion cases every year.

      How’s that rate look now?

      It can’t even SEE .1%, never mind anything higher.

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  24. As a world expert in testing and Professor of Pathology and Medicine, I would say they are using the wrong test. Many of the subclinical cases are no longer carrying the virus so the nucleic acid test will come up negative. The virus and its nucleic acid are gone. They need to use an antibody test for human IgG and IgM directed against the virus. This will tell How many have immunity which will give the information on how many were infected.

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