Mar 16, 2020 · 498 comments
Margie (California)
Please update this article with charts for the actual infection and fatality rates we have had over the last year plus.
formed (Place)
Our response one of the great failures of the modernist project. Not much faith in our rational capacities when I see the NJ gov saying the economy stays shut until no new cases!!!
Charles Kirchet (easley SC)
First Phil Hills we do know the numbers are being padded as the CDC and WHO issued a directive that even if the person has not been tested for coronavirus if you suspect they have some symptoms of Coronavirus you are to say the cause of death is Coronavirus. Second no one is determining if the person many of who are very ill with heart and cancer and lung illnesses. Either died of those illnesses or would have. And as the Governor of New York said no patients have died because they were not getting proper care. No shortage of ventilators New York has thousands in storage. New York is epicenter of pandemic as citizens were originally told to go on with their lives by NYC Mayor And NY Governor
Alex (Vancouver)
@Charles Kirchet Agree and there’s several major causes of death missing here so the public can start to believe that it is all corona virus. Where is Flu? Where is Alcoholism?
Patricio (Chile)
@Alex Very sorry for your limited perspective to see the real numbers. Pretending all the deaths are indeed provoked by a different condition is just denying reality, for saying the least. There is a nice article in the NYT, showing the death over the time including seasonal variations over the last 10 years and you can see how the numbers now go through the roof now, take a look. Also, you could try to convince health workers in Queens that what they are seeing now at the hospitals is due to flu and alcoholism .
Maria João Gomes (Portugal)
Because we are dealing with an epidemic situation, the strain that's imposed to the health system in a short period of time will increase the lethality rate of Coronavírus and overall mortality once its limit is reached. If there is no ventilators nor sufficient medical staff, people will die from appendicitis, trauma, respiratory, cardiovascular and many other treatable diseases. Maria João Gomes, MD.
Phil Hills (Seattle)
What I'm taking from this chart is that no matter what we do and what % covid infection and fatality rate will be it will land in the top 20 cause of death for 2020, Is this correct? How will they label with pre existing conditions, how do we know the numbers are not being padded?
Jo Ann (Switzerland)
Americans, stop squabbling and grow up. Even if Trump is incapable of understanding this drama you can still do your bit as a responsible adult. We in Europe are showing you the way. My little country is one of the ten worst hit by COVID but we're doing our best even if we sometimes struggle with our languages and our attitude differences.
Steve (Pompano Beach, Fl)
Please pardon the dark sarcasm: Cheer up young people. No death tax.
fred (iowa)
Odd, you failed to list the death statistics for alcohol use, why is that? 88,000 a year, kills more young people than all illegal drugs combined, seems to be a concerted effort in the media to ignore booze or downplay it.
Eustacius (Valparaiso, IN)
There is a basic flaw in the statistical projections. Those that die from Covid-19 overwhelmingly (99.1%) have one or more of the other leading causes of death. To lay those co-morbid deaths on Covid’s doorstep is unfair to the virus. The statistical deaths can not be piled one on top of the other. They over-lap. The true Covid only death rate is .9% for all ages but heavily weighted toward +80 years. A significant fraction of those deaths would just be old age. People die when they get old.
Margaret Jay (Sacramento)
The linchpin for everything being done about Covid-19 is the false equation between contracting the virus and dying from the virus. They are not the same, although the resulting fear is what keeps people under control. It’s not just about comparing covid-19 to the many worse causes of death, although that shows a shockingly disproportionate reaction which makes no sense. For example, it is obvious that by controlling obesity we could prevent most deaths from heart disease. Yet not only have we never made this kind of major effort to control obesity, it is forbidden to even discuss it lest we be accused of fat-shaming. And by gun control, which the NRA forbids, we could protect the lives of many children. But coronavirus means much more. It also means loss of jobs, perhaps permanently, and loss of homes due to high mortgage payments in many areas. For many middle-income families, it means devastation of retirement plans as hope for income from their primary source of wealth begins to wane in the new economy. It means destruction of personal relationships, disruption of the lives of teen-agers just at the worst possible time, and it means a sad and desperately lonely death for many old persons who are prohibited from having visits due to fear of contagion. A major reason for all this destruction of our social and economic order was supposed to be that we cared about our old people and our children. These charts and the reality they represent completely belie that reason.
Angela (BC)
@Margaret Jay obesity isn't the only cause of heart disease. Smoking, heart murmurs from forms of rheumatic fever (I have a moral valve prolapse from age 5), and birth defects are just three example. And I know many skinny old ladies who are NOT healthy, and who have angina.
CB (Massachusetts)
So here's the thing that's been confusing me ... does the fatality rate refer to the percentage of known cases of people killed by COVID-19, or as a percentage of the total *population*? Those are two entirely different scenarios. I discovered that WHO bases the rate on number of *known* cases, not population, and the number of known cases is not very accurate while we are in the midst of this pandemic. WHO uses the CFR, or Case Fatality Rate. I wish reporters would clarify whether their percentages refer to cases or population, so we can get a clearer picture. Even better - how about a graph showing that comparison?
OldCon (Alaska)
@CB The fatality rate slider apparently references the entire population of the US. Move the infection rate slider to 50% (of US population of about 333 million) and the fatality slider to 1% gives 1.6 million.
Clay (Houston)
Big shortcoming that the slider can't go below 1% infection rate. Using the source data embedded in the article, Hubei has an infection rate of 0.113% and China as a whole is at 0.006%. These rates of infection in tandem with an assumed mortality rate of 1.5% yield absolute annual deaths of roughly 4900 and 245, respectively - which would make COVID-19 about as deadly as viral hepatitis.
Timery (California)
@Clay EXACTLY. We have real data - from China, from Italy, from Singapore.... The Infection Rate is <<<1%. What data are officials looking at as they take all of these steps to destroy our economy, our children's education, our savings, and our daily freedoms? I don't understand any of this at all.
Jonathan (Austin, TX)
This is a fun interactive article that can really help people play with numbers to get a better feel for the dynamics related to this pandemic. However, I think that the article does a disservice to readers because it suggests that infection rates and fatality rates are independent when in actuality the fatality rate is very much dependent upon the infection rate. The higher the infection rate, the more overwhelmed the medical system becomes and the more people who are turned away. That means the fatality rate skyrockets. It would be amazing if you could tie the two together so you can move one or the other and that naturally nudges the other, or at least puts limits on the other (i.e., can't have an infection rate of 60% with a fatality rate of only .5%).
Philippe Joguet (Paris)
@Jonathan - The spread of the epidemic means the infection rate will continue to rise inexorably, and therefore the number of deaths too, in absolute terms at least. But the fatality rate will DECREASE of course, with the ever increasing numerator. It is mathematical and attested by experience, for this pandemic as for all those that preceded. If our fight is successful, quarantine in particular, cases of new infections will also eventually decrease, until there are no new cases, as in Wuhan. It will then be necessary to secure the end of the lockdown, to avoid any second wave, as China is currently doing. It will be long, very long but the other ways are much more risky, as shown by the CDC study which is based on an assumption of "minimal efforts". This is why the millions of deaths in the USA alone are impossible, thank God. Rather than "playing with numbers" erroneously, I advise you to act, quickly, for the strictest possible lockdown.
Will (San Francisco)
To the authors, your graphic "How Corona Virus Deaths Could Compare..." referenced the CDC database but did not reference the number you presented. I went through several iterations and could replicate your 480,000 deaths due to COVID-19. Can you please share how you arrived at the 480,000 number? Thanks.
Patricia Tawney (Colton OR)
Just a reminder that per 100,000 the US has far more Children than in China. All models using China data need to be adjusted for this major population difference.
Leroy (San Francisco)
@Patricia Tawney That would imply that the US has a younger population and will have better results than the Chinese. If you slide the sliders to the lowest possible settings, you still can't get down to the actual death count in China. And their death toll was on 4 times the population. I'm wondering just exactly what context they are talking about. The context of predicting the apocalypse in order to sell more papers?
martyboggs (los angeles)
i love all manner of sliders. I just wish it were under better circumstances.
Brian Herbert (Atlanta)
Excellent layout, with the adjustable measures that allow me to look at the impact of different rates of infection and fatalities. Your assessment of the differential impact Coronavirus has by age group may be just the tip of an evolving discussion about the social fallout from this. For example, we are just learning how long one might be contagious but show no symptoms, or if we can build immunity but continue to be a carrier. For the next year or two, older people might have a justifiable fear of contact with younger people, I don't want to foment crazy ideas but this is just one way this outbreak may strain our social fabric.
Lupe (Mid America)
@Brian Herbert It's this kind of hyperbole that will cause social breakdowns. You naysayers always seem to forget that this is a MODEL. More so, a COMPUTER MODEL. They can make it "say" what they want. Thus far, in Nebraska, we have 50 ill, no deaths. Looking at the 'big picture', I'd say we're (world) is doing well. Remember the h1n1. At this point in it's pandemic it had killed near 50K Americans (let alone the world). Ten imes more than this virus. Remain calm at all times.
Kevin (UK)
Great comments. But please remember that this is a pandemic. It should shrink differences not accentuate them. Leave our prejudices and politics outside, they belong to the past. To another time, to an age of societal imbecility. Qualities of brotherhood and compassion, volunteering and empathy are what we need. We can all do this locally and in good faith, regardless of constructs like race, gender or religion. Be kind, be courageous and be the best we can be.
Sheila Burns (New Mexico)
@Kevin, inspiring but not realistic . What we need and what we have are different; comments in all social media can and do reveal intelligence compassion empathy as well as societal prejudice & scientific imbecility.
Philippe Joguet (Paris)
These data are very interesting, but I am extremely surprised by the interpretations. The scenarios of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do NOT announce what the death toll is going to be or could be. In fact, they assess the number of possible deaths according to several hypotheses of infection rate and fatality rate, IF LITTLE OR NOTHING IS DONE TO STOP THE EPIDEMIC. The article clearly states "assuming minimal efforts to contain it". This sentence, admittedly very discreet in the article, makes a BIG difference ! Very few comments take it into account. The range between 200,000 and 1.7 million deaths in the USA and none of the other figures shall never come true, thank God! Because reality will simply not follow this model. Whatever nonsense your disastrous President says or decides, the great American people, the States, cities, American scientific authorities, hospitals, etc. are NOT going to make minimal efforts !!! On the contrary, everything will be done, as in France, to stop coronavirus infection, starting with lockdown measures like here in Paris. It’s hard, but it’s the price to pay to avoid this appalling death toll. There will be casualties in large numbers though. But they will be in tens of thousands, and not in hundreds of thousands, not to mention millions. Stop panicking, use your reason and act consequently. If so, the death toll will never be statistics. It will remain just a clever and useful model to justify the strongest action.
Brian Herbert (Atlanta)
@Philippe Joguet you stated "The range between 200,000 and 1.7 million deaths in the USA and none of the other figures shall never come true, thank God" I beg to differ, I think the range is likely to be accurate and that if we get past this with 200,000 U.S. fatalities that will be a success worthy of praise to the medical community and government action, In a country with 300 million, life is eventually a deadly pursuit for us all, we have to take each threat in perspective- heart disease and cancer kills more of us year after year than anything, yet we still have so much trouble getting people to care enough to make changes in their own lives and choices to prevent it. Now, we have to teach people not only could their own behavior and choices put their life at risk, but the life of everyone they come within 3 feet of. If this gets out of hand, people should not look at the tv for a face to blame, they should look in the mirror
Philippe Joguet (Paris)
@Brian Herbert - I hope with all my soul that you are wrong because I love your country very much. And I have science-based reasons for hoping so. 200,000 fatalities in the CDC model is indeed the lower death toll of the less severe assumptions (as regards infection and fatality rates). But again, these results are valid ONLY IF nothing is done to contain the epidemic. I don’t say this, but the model’s methodology does ! Lockdown, which is absolutely inevitable, will have effects, in the USA as elsewhere. The death toll will be high and will break our hearts, in any case. But it will be less appalling if social interactions are stopped, for the benefit of common good. THE FASTER THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL BE QUARANTINED, THE LOWER THE FINAL DEATH TOLL WILL BE. PLEASE, ACT NOW ! Everything else is just nuance and a waste of time and lives.
Gal G (London, England)
@Philippe Joguet - Speaking as an American currently stuck in London riding this out, this is past containment. I can not tell you how many people I know that think they have caught covid, based on getting super sick recently with recent contact with people who have been confirmed sick with covid-19, myself included. The whole point of quarantine is to slow the spread as not to overwhelm the health system so covid patients and people with other treatable health issues don’t die due to overcrowding. This chart does not take into much account that a bulk of the deaths are going to be concurrent heart disease, diabetes, regular flu, and cancer patients that may already be at risk as is, not completely healthy ones. Hopefully the combination drug therapies will work, but people need to take personal responsibility as well to help mitigate the severity of this pandemic. The fear of covid is terrible, but with some preparation and good health choices, most healthy people can manage this severe flu, even like myself, as I beat back my terrible migraines, body aches, and sore throat this week with lots of hot salt water rinses, Liposome C, ozone oils, tons of rest, and constant heat retention on my neck and chest. My friends who didn’t heed advice and pushed themselves, walking in the cold late at night, doing hard workouts in gym with mild symptoms, and not getting rest when their bodies were feeling suddenly tired, they are unfortunately the ones sitting at home with fevers now.
Irving Schwartz (Tallahassee, Florida)
It appears that many bloggers earned their high school diplomas in epidemiology. Many are likely critics who claimed that Trump doesn’t believe in science. Let’s leave the speculation to the scientific community. And let’s put our faith in the team of extraordinary scientists that the President has assembled. There will be plenty of time for finger pointing or giving credit after this dark cloud of sickness and death has passed over our thresholds. I served as the state health director of two states, rely on science to produce a solution and carefully avoid irresponsible extrapolation.
Jonathan Peizer (NY)
@Irving Schwartz Trump believes in neither science or the truth until it came up and bit him in the behind and he could no longer create fictional realities with people infected and dying... We should more than likely thank god these folks he has left weren't summarily dismissed from the administration as so many other Doctors and Scientists including experienced and intelligent former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
Erich Breckoff (Finland)
@Irving Schwartz {If you run an country by any means democratic you have to talk about such things all the time. voters need to be aware of such things, only dictator run countries have the luxury of ignorance
Jim (Carmel NY)
I posted the below quote earlier on this topic and given the differences between our ad hoc healthcare system as opposed to the guaranteed healthcare coverage of S. Korea and Italy I am inclined to believe our total rate of infection will exceed Italy's escalating rate of CV infection. My projections are based upon the fact that as of today, the number of infections are doubling every two days opposed to, I believe, Italy's 4 day rate of doubling. Given the fact that we still do not know how many Americans are infected I will stick with my original projection of 10 million total American cases, and my 1% fatality rate, which despite my projected 1% fatality rate currently stands at 1.7%; just hoping I guess. "Since South Korea is the only country that immediately began testing as many people as possible, regardless of whether or not they were symptomatic or had recent exposure to at-risk individuals, the current statistics demonstrate an overall infection rate of approximately 3.4% of the total population, and a mortality rate of approximately 1%. Extrapolating South Korea's statistics for the US would lead to approximately 10 million cases nationwide with a mortality rate of approximately 100,000. On the other end of the spectrum we have Italy where the current confirmed rate of infection is approximately 25%, with a corresponding 10% mortality rate."
Theresa (Delaware)
My husband and I are career scientists. When this outbreak first started being reported, we began scrutinizing every bit of data to analyze the impact of this virus. One thing has become very clear over the course of the last few months. This is an incredibly opportunistic virus that makes the most vulnerable in our populations susceptible. To oversimplify it at this point is bad science. We will need to accumulate much more data before we can present real facts about who develops serious illness and dies from this disease. Co-morbid conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease and obesity as well as smoking and overall health will all have to be analyzed before we understand the full scope of this virus effect on humans. Modern medicine has given people longer lives with conditions that would have proved fatal decades ago. Sadly, this virus is targeting those individuals.
Chance Windham (Texas)
@Theresa Well, it doesn’t take a scientist to deduce that.
michelle (nyc)
@Chance Windham Sadly, it appears as if it does.
James (Boston)
All of these "no big deal" comments remind me of the early 80's when these posters, or their parents, were saying the exact same thing about the AIDS/HIV virus: It was a small outbreak, liberals were being alarmist, we'd have a vaccine relatively quickly and (the big one) it was happening to a group of people who were doing all the "wrong" things anyway (They were IV drug users and gay men.) In fact, Reagan waffled for *years* about publicly addressing the AIDS crisis and for early months it was actually known as GRIDS (Gay-related-Immune-Deficiency-Syndrome.) It seems amazing that anyone who lived through that would be downplaying the current crises based on what downplaying the HIV crisis got us: An infected blood supply, a 90% mortality rate for years, and 40 million dead Americans, of every gender and creed. Can we not under-react again in my lifetime... please?
@James You might want to look up CURRENT infection rates among the gay population compared to the rest.
Peter Maxwell (USA)
I believe this article should be re-positioned as "What's the cost of doing nothing?" as that's what the slider's present. The infection rates (up to 70%) assume minimal if any public health measures. At this point, I believe every country has decided to do suppression and wait for treatment/vaccine development (after the UK flipped), which means extensive public health measure to limit transmission. If we do suppression like South Korea (maybe ~100 cases a day right now on a population of ~52m), that would equate to 0.07% of the population per year, implying ~35k cases a year in S. Korea and ~230k cases per year in the U.S. Death rates might still be in the 1.0%-1.5% if you think Korea's death rate to date is instructive given their broad testing, but that would apply on a the above cases, yielding a death count of maybe something like ~1,000-5,000 per year (assuming a range on the ~230k cases cases and 1.0%-1.5% death rate), which would place coronavirus off the table. With those infections rates under effective suppression protocol, we will never reach herd immunity, so the 20%-80% infection rates are misleading - we're just treading water until we have a medical solution.
Peter Maxwell (USA)
@Peter Maxwell 3 things I forgot: 1. Herd immunity assumes that recovered individuals develop immunity for a non-trivial amount of time, which many not be the case 2. Many countries may lack the ability to implement suppression effectively. For those countries, a table like this may be unfortunately accurate. 3. PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHERE I'M WRONG
Mark (Louisiana)
China- Percentage of the population infected .000056% Italy - Percentage of the population infected .00059% Germany- Percentage of the population infected .000017% Please adjust your Infection rate scale to .00001% .00002% .00003% .00004% .00005. Etc... Mortality rates China- .04% Italy .083% Germany .0029%
@AnDeVeaux (canada)
@Mark the percentage of population infected today that we know of. it is not the same number as percentage infected over a year
Kate (Madison WI)
Good context for what we know at the moment. But my overall takeaway is actually how tragic it is that guns, drug overdoses, car crashes and suicides - all potentially preventable deaths with better health care and policies - claim so many younger people in this country, and we don’t panic about them.
Erich Breckoff (Finland)
@Kate As long they do not happen on the good side of the tracks....
purpledog (Washington, DC)
This article is irresponsible and its ridiculous slider-bar simulation is glib and facile. So far I've been tolerant of media outlets covering this pandemic, but this is fear-mongering. What does this article accomplish? We are already scared enough. No one is leaving their house. The economy has been destroyed in two weeks, and here is the New York Times fanning the flames of panic. Editors, do a better job.
Patricia Tawney (Colton OR)
@purpledog , Apparently you didn't see the pictures of young people on Florida's beached and young people filling bars. How long do you think isolation will last in this country? I have pneumonia and have been in isolation since February 27. I am going nuts. I just can't see the US population keeping isolated unless thousand begin to die. Most Americans are not scared enough. My own husband played golf on Wednesday. I thought he was driving to the course and he promised to use social distance. But I discovered they all got in one car and took it to the course. He just blew the concept of social distancing, knowing that his wife has pneumonia and is at extreme risk. He just didn't think he would get sick by visiting his friends. He said he trusted them to be careful. Geez. And he is a smart guy, honestly. All these guys are smart guys. They just didn't think the issue applied to them. That is America all over.
truth (West)
Of course, there is also overlap. Some percentage of people who die of coronavirus also have cancer or heart disease--and indeed, are more susceptible as a result. Attributing mortality is always tough, and it will be even more so now. Did the 75-year-old with heart disease die of Covid-19, or of the underlying heart disease? And, a separate, even less answerable question: would he have died of heart disease anyway? Not minimizing the seriousness, but I hate it when data science is done poorly.
Theresa (Delaware)
@truth I see this as a major flaw in the statistics presented here. This data does not account for any of the co-morbid conditions you mention, also, does not account for the serious issue of morbid obesity and it's effect on overall health. Factors such as smoking aren't even recognized. Unless there are studies of every case and all the factors leading to severe outcomes and fatalities, this data is meaningless. This is a multi faceted, opportunistic virus, and to oversimplify it this way is misleading at best.
Patricia Tawney (Colton OR)
@truth , ACEII is how CoViD-19 gets into the body. This receptor is known to impact the heart, blood flow, liver and lungs when it doesn't function properly. Read the 2012 study on this receptor. Then you will understand how CoViD-19 works and how it kills. Then you won't ask such an uninformed question about what kills these victims. You will understand better how people who have health issues can live longer and have great lives while living with health issues. But CoViD-19 makes this impossible. I have serious lung issues that are managed with medication. I can expect to live along time even with my health issues. Long enough to see my grandson graduate from high school. But my chance of survival with CoViD-19 is extremely low. If I get this virus I won't see him enter Kindergarten. That is what is at stake.
Erich Breckoff (Finland)
@Theresa It is the best data we have to decide what to do. I am 100% sure we will have the perfect solution. Ten years after it is over.
Francis (Naples)
Most recommended post commented, “The first cases in China were reported in January and set off alarm bells in the scientific community - Trump did nothing lest he lose the re-election due to a faltering stock market.” Hmmm, and what he doing in January? What were our Congress - Senate and House - so busy with that they didn’t didn’t hear the “alarm bells” from the outbreak in China? What business captivated the attention of the nation until Feb 2nd, when it was finally resolved, with its aftermath still reverberating a week later? Seems we’ve forgotten...but many of us will remember come November.
Construction Joe (Salt Lake City)
In other words, nobody knows much about this disease yet.
Jedi (Salt Lake City)
@Construction Joe which is why it's probably best to prepare for the worst case scenario and hope for the best case scenario.
Korry (New York)
According to Chinese data the fatality rate varies per age group. For example to the best of my knowledge children aged 10-19 had a .2% fatality rate. Which when taking into account a 70% infection rate that still leaves children more vulnerable to dying from car accidents than Covid. I am not trying to diminish the importance of being vigilant here, but I do believe we need to be careful in how we allow people to manipulate the current data in order to avoid further mass panic. Let’s be responsible. But certainly social distancing and quarantining make sense until we can really get a better picture how this virus operates in the US population.
Bernie Cerone (Newburgh NY)
We know that unsafe meat production practices are the root cause of many pandemics, including the coronavirus, so why is this not more widely written about now as a way to prevent future viruses? And instead of just blaming China, maybe we should take a look at what's going on at some US factory farms as well. This would be a good opportunity to get our population to seriously consider the benefits of a meat free diet, both to our health and to the environment.
Ron (Santa Monica)
@Bernie Cerone I have not read of any evidence that indicates that COVID-19 is spread through unsafe meat practices. None. It's through person-to-person contact. I would avoid trying to push your agenda using something totally unrelated.
Melissa Lake (Philadelphia, PA)
@Ron Then you are not reading enough. It was initially spread from animals to humans via bats in a wet market in Wuhan. In other words, from unsafe meat practices.
Bipartisan (Juneau, Alaska)
@Melissa Lake The method of transfer from bats to humans is surmised, not absolutely known. It is also possible that this was due to direct bat-to-human aerosol transfer - not from eating meat. And some evidence exists that there was an intermediate non-human animal host, possibly pangolin. You assume that the transfer from other animal to human animal occurred because the human animal ate the non-human animal - but that's not known, and frankly is not likely. It's more likely that the virus was transmitted from the breath of one living animal to the respiratory tract of the new human host. Facts Matter.
TM (Westchester)
NYT coverage and frankly all media is in so many ways reflective of the overall lack of leadership and imagination in this country today. As many have pointed out, we have lost fact based reporting and are immersed into full blown sensationalism which serves to scare rather than inform, leaves ordinary people feeling completely powerless and leaves leaders with a standard that can never be met. The people writing for you need to get a grip and serve the public rather than seeing how many clicks their fearmongering can get.
Jim (Carmel NY)
@TM So in essence you are saying we should not respond too the potential crisis at all.
Patricia Tawney (Colton OR)
@TM , No reasonable person reads just this one article. We are reading every thing we can get our hands on. My information that makes me stay home didn't even come from anything I read. It came from statements made by our primary hospitals that serve our area. They said stay home while they figured it out. Because they couldn't test, not even enough test for their staff, and they were already at capacity for the flu. Even though the NW has far fewer health risk as a region, they knew that any increase in patients needing care similar to their existing pneumonia patients would tax their space and supplies. If everyone had just gone home then and stayed their it would have saved lives. But that didn't happen. So, regardless of what is published in the NYTs or the Wall Street Journal, we make decisions based on what our local medical professionals ask of us. We are not scared, panicked or even nervous. We are home and will stay home until these local professionas tell us it is ok for us to go out. It's that simple. I wish everyone would stop telling me how scared, terrified or panicked I am. We aren't. We are angry though, angry at anyone telling someone else how I feel or how I ought to feel. Stop it.
Erich Breckoff (Finland)
@TM I worked as paramedic, I am way more scared than the NYT can possible scare me.
Paul B (San Jose, Calif.)
This articles's use of wildly exaggerated, worst-case, numbers is almost as ridiculous as the Imperial College Covid-19 Disease Team paper from last weekend. Which essentially said that we'd have at least six periods of massive economic dislocation over the next 18 months, until a vaccine was developed, irregardless of whatever social distancing or medical strategies were adopted. Conveniently ignoring the possibility/likelihood that people who are infected will develop an immunity to the virus and the virus therefore won't keep reoccurring. You guys at the NYT really need to take a few deep breaths, calm down, and start asking some basic, skeptical, questions of the experts. (Which is not to say we don't have a problem. I'm actually proud the Bay Area area is leading the charge on this getting a handle on things by doing shelter in place.)
J.E (Washington D.C.)
@Paul B Are you an expert on this matter? An epidemiologist? What makes you call ridiculous a scientific paper and reject the information presented to you as exaggerated just because you don’t like it. Do you have any scientific data to validate your views or is just a hunch? We need cold facts now, no matter if we like them or not.
M1A1 Abrams (anywhere)
@J.E Maybe do some research on viruses. The author isn't a epidemiologist either. If it's so deadly why are COMMERCIAL planes still flying in & out of MD, DC, VA ? Why are the roads (stores) just as busy ? If not busier. But yet the stock markets are crashing ? If it's your time to go nothing is gonna stop it. Its only a question of how. Not really seeing the scare where I live unless you need toilet. paper.
Dani (Coatesville, PA)
@M1A1 Abrams My husband and I were driving down SR 340 from Thorndale to Coatesville on Wednesday. There were virtually no cars on the road. Stores are more crowded because people are panicking as they have been for awhile. Many places are closed so as to slow the climb of this deadly virus. Where have you been?
Terry F (Cambs UK)
Only time will tell us whether Governments made the right decision; right now we are all just speculating. Medical papers will be written in the future, and lessons will be learnt. as a working 60+ male with existing health probs, I'm self isolating. I wish you all good health and God speed through this time and hope to see you on the other side. look after each other, stay positive and keep clean! oh and thank you NYT, for being the best thought provoking newspaper in the world.
StarMan (Maryland)
Some comments by deniers and cherry-pickers here reminds me of the same behavior from people who don't like facts about climate change, except their willful ignorance and illogic will get people unnecessarily hurt and killed on a much more immediate timeline.
rowbat (Vancouver, BC)
An off-the-topic comment, but it's notable (to me) that HIV/AIDS is no longer even in the top 20 causes of death in our countries.
michelle (nyc)
@rowbat it’s also notable that this took nearly half a century.
Rgirard (Los Angeles)
Among other omissions, the article fails to take account of the fact that many or even a majority of the elderly who may die as a result of corona virus would have died during the year due to the underlying health condition which made them especially vulnerable to the virus.
David (Oregon)
@Rgirard - what a ridiculous assertion. You have absolutely no evidence that "many or a majority" ... would have died anyway during the year. You have absolutely no evidence to make this claim. Besides which, I hope it isn't your family member (mom, dad, grandma) that is "one of the elderly who is going to die this year"
Construction Joe (Salt Lake City)
@Rgirard: You could say the same thing about the rest of us. Many will die during the year from gunshot wounds, auto accidents, assaults etc.
Frances DiBisceglia (Burrillville RI)
@David Rgirard 's comment sounds rational to me. We all are going to die, the elderly first of all.
Bill Kerr (Texas)
I assume these estimates are based on similar levels of care across all ranges, but we know that will not be the case if we exceed the capacity of our medical facilities. We should be cautious about estimating fatality rate in the early days of this epidemic. It will surely change over time.
M1A1 Abrams (anywhere)
@Bill Kerr How many deaths so far in Cali ? I think that will be a good testing ground. Between the haves & have not. Will all the homeless die ? How about HW elites ? Seeing how they have confirmed cases. We should see high casualty rate by now (homeless). Hospitals should be filled up. Not to mention how many travel to China & back to USA.
HGreenberg (Detroit, MI)
Israel has roughly 400 cases and no deaths; roughly a dozen cases in the ICU. Their prevention measures are similar to ours and their health care system more analogous to ours than Korea or Italy’s. I think these projections are wild over-estimates. We’ll get better at managing the disease with experience and the much-maligned drug companies will likely develop effective treatments and eventually a vaccine. Enough hysteria. Just the facts please.
Joshua (Sacramento, CA)
@HGreenberg "I think...." "Just facts please"
AK (Baltimore)
@HGreenberg Using obesity as a proxy for general health, they are much healthier overall than Americans. Obesity in the US is almost triple what it is in Israel (40% vs 14%). Don't expect the same results here.
David (Oregon)
@HGreenberg Just like the Trumpster: "My hunch is this is no big deal and will just go away."
Hugues (Paris)
If there are respirator shortages, the death rate might be closer to 5% than 1%. Right now in Italy it is over 6%.
Dan (Washington D.C.)
@Hugues That's true but it is also important to recognize that the average age of Italians is much higher than other countries (the second-highest if I am correct). It is important to look at differences among populations - the 6% mortality rate is 6% of people tested for coronavirus. It is not 6% of the population and it would be dangerous to assume that 6% applies to every country, given the different demographics, cultural practices, and healthcare infrastructures.
Barry (British Columbia, Canada)
I'm finding the NYT coverage helpful because of its consistent Statistics-based reporting of information over the course of the pandemic. Please keep it up. There are many ways to pick apart these analyses, and some of them have merit. We can expect better data, but while waiting, what I see here is a source of calm. There are many other very dangerous things in our environment, but so far we have been able to deal with them without wrecking the economy. Thank yo for this careful work.
Jeff (California)
Of course these listed causes of death LEAVE OUT what is traditionally the 3rd largest cause of death in the United States, which is Medical errors. This problem has persisted for many years and has never caused the panic that this coronavirus is causing.
HGreenberg (Detroit, MI)
@Jeff While medical errors are serious it is statistically correct to leave them out because they are not the primary cause of death. Patients have to have a diagnosis in order to get the therapy. You’d be counting the same patient twice. Those articles that say medical errors are the nth leading cause of death are unscientific and specious. It is nearly impossible in the majority of cases in which an aberration in dosage or timing of a medication is noted to definitively identify that as the cause of death and not the primary diagnosis.
Christopher A. Edwards (Lafayette, LA)
The only information we have as to how many people in China have been infected or died is from their State-run media. Now they have excluded many American media journalists from reporting in China. I do not trust Chinese State-run media to correctly and honestly report the numbers affected here. The actual numbers could be 10 times - or even 100 times - higher than is being reported. We will have to wait and see what those actual numbers turn out to be.
econ (kansas)
If this report is true then applying the same death rates gives the following: China 1.4 milliondead Itally 108,000 dead World 16.2 million None of these numbers are even close and that is before taking into account the quality of the health care system.
The Flemmings (Brooklyn)
@econ And so far, China has less than 10,000 deaths, right? Such a long way they'll have to go to catch up to our western experts' predictions.
David (Oregon)
@The Flemmings And you could study a little mathematics. Look up "logarithmic" growth, or exponential growth or geometric growth. Try any one of those growth models and just start with 1 or 2 as your beginning (patient zero and one), and then watch it grow. Logarithmic growth climbs so fast you need special graph paper to even graph logarithmic growth.
David (Oregon)
@econ One thing this virus has exposed is the complete ignorance of mathematics and, well, just plain arithmetic. Our unstable idiot leader said something like only 1% of people die. Uh duh, do the math. If one of every 3 Americans gets the virus and 1% die, that is a million people. By the way, we don't have a "health care system" we have a "sickness care system" that is about to overwhelmed and will show that it is not a "quality" system but a "profit" system in which health care is an afterthought
TomK (SoCal)
It may be that the 480,000 deaths Lawler calculated is not an annual rate (like the other numbers). Here is a reference. "On one slide, James Lawler, MD, an associate professor University of Nebraska Medical Center, estimated the effect of the virus' nationwide spread. He predicted 96 million cases overall, 4.8 million hospitalizations and 480,000 deaths. The slide does not mention a time frame within which this may happen. ( Maybe the 480K deaths are summed over the course of the virus episode?
cynic2 (Missouri)
Won't the coronavirus be a great method for expanding the viability of social security since senior citizens are the ones most likely to die from this disease!
David (Oregon)
@cynic2 Yes, I am surprised that our great and genius President Trump has not already commented how great a job this virus will do in reducing the burden that these old folks put the medicare and social security system.
Rachel (Cincinnati, Ohio)
This is an absolutely phenomenal article! I’m blown away by how well it breaks down the stats into something that is easy for everyone to understand. To whoever wrote it and created the data visualizations— you clearly have a gift for explaining data. Great job!
john montague (Bayside, CA)
The anticipation of seasonality is a major factor in the probability and statistics surrounding Covid19. Your omission of this key factor equals subpar journalism. Coronaviruses typically mellow out in May. Leaving this out induces hysteria and unrealistic assumptions. That said, Covid19 is very serious, it will get worse This Spring, and quarantines should be required.
David (Oregon)
@john montague This is NOT sub-par journalism. It is already clear that THIS Corona virus is running wild in parts of the world that are SUMMER!!!! As in the USA, where test kits are hardly available (because of the monumental screwup by the incompetent Trump administration), we really have no idea of the extent of the spread because we cannot test. Mr. Montague, no one knows if will abate, and if you say so, and don't know so, then the people will say you are a liar (as is our Prez) and then not believe anything after that.
tsl (France)
@john montague In the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918, infections fell during the summer, then roared back even higher in the fall. The summer provided only a brief respite.
Average Joe (Virginia)
So far this has been the best article illustrating the potential severity of what we're facing. But, why is it so 'buried' in the paper? Heck, it should be it's own website!
Please explain how Lawler concluded that 480,000 coronavirus deaths in the US was a likely scenario, when China had a few thousand despite a nation 4 times our population. And the notion that China jumped on the virus before we did is similar nonsense, since data suggest that SARS-CoV-2 was established in Wuhan back in November of 2019. Something tells me he smells grant money. All of the epidemiology data for corona virus is garbage held together with guesswork, bubble gum, hyperbole, and panic because most of the testing has occurred in symptomatic or high-risk subjects. We have no idea what the real infection rate for the population is. Given the rate and ability of the virus to jump geographically, it is not a fringe suggestion that perhaps the virus has more asymptomatic/low symptom carriers than the people being tallied now - a lot more. People need to get a grip, recognize that there are things we need to do, but that this is not the End of Times. This is irresponsible "journalism".
njs (md)
@QED because China imposed a quarantine and people weren't allowed out of their houses. Here, people are doing St. Pats bar crawls.
David (Oregon)
@QED This is an absurd accusation that someone wants to get money by making predictions of many deaths. QED is making completely false statements about the lack of good data. Again I suspect complete ignorance of mathematics or even arithmetic. Can QED solve this problem: If the USA has 300 Million people, and 33% get infected with the virus, and the percent who die equals .5%. How many Americans die from the virus? Answer in next reply. (Don't Peek)
Brian (NY)
The number stated here for the mortality rate in South Korea (0.8%) is likely low. It is close to the number of deaths (84 on 3/28) out of the total number of cases (8,413), a rate of just under 1%. There are currently 6,789 cases that are still active. That leaves 1,624 cases in which 1,540 recovered and 84 died, a mortality rate of just over 5%. This number was just over 6% on Monday and 9% at the end of last week.
LHP (02840)
Taking the percentages of infections according to EU virologists, 70% of the population, and the current average death toll of the number infected, 3%, still comes out to a low death rate percentage wise for the whole country. It is highly unlikely though that the US will have the 70% infection rate because population density is much less in much of the US. The social security fund will be positively affected by the sinking number of benefit payments.
S (Seattle)
@LHP you are a real charmer. "social security fund will be positively affected by the sinking number of benefit payments" you may well be one that doesn't recover.
David (Oregon)
@LHP 3% is a huge number!! Math ignorance abounds. Multiply, if you can, .03 x 100, 000, 000 (less than 1/3 of Americans). The answer - 3,000,000 people dead in the USA alone. LHP: do you really think this "still comes out to a low death rate"? Of course, that LHP would say we can get rid of a lot old folks, maybe even enough to fix the soc security problems - a real loving compassionate person.
Bill (AZ)
Looking at the data, I'm struck by how highly correlated the age related case death rate is to time from childhood immunization. Most people are vaccinated as children, youngest children most recently. Older populations are further from that process, if vaccinated at all (I'm 65 and did not get many of the vaccines that my 30'ish daughters received). How ironic if it turns out that current childhood immunization actually confers significant protections to that population.
Julia (Boston)
Childhood vaccines only provide protection against the diseases they are designed to. It is far more likely that COVID-19 simply targets “worn out” immune systems.
Josh (Chicago)
Absolutely fantastic job conveying highly nuanced insights from complex data. I learned more from this explanation of the key variable assumptions and interactive data model than I have from 90%+ of all other news coverage cumulatively. This is helpful. Thank you.
caroline (los angeles, ca)
@Josh It is too bad that the charts are based on completely fictitious guesses. They admit in the article that they have no idea how many will be infected. 20% is a massive overestimate when in China and Korea and even Italy the numbers are far far lower.
Josh (Chicago)
@caroline the point of the interactive data model is that you interact with it. They are sliders so you can see the impact of those independent variables changing. The point isn't to give you a single number based on those guesses, it's to teach you about the range of possible outcomes given the unknown variables. Nothing fictitious here, you are just misunderstanding.
@caroline These are over the life of the pandemic, and beyond. What is going to happen when suddenly people are allowed out of their homes again, you will see a resurgence of the disease. It's not magically gone. The goal is to slow it down, we can't make it go away. The infections are still going to happen, but we need to control as best we can how fast they are allowed to in order to prevent overwhelming the health resources.
Matthew (Missouri)
Fear of the unknown is a powerful enemy and it makes governments, corporations and people do very strange things. The panic and mania over the Coronavirus is illogical and not scientific and has done tremendous damage to the entire world. During the same time period, COVID-19 has infected 200,000 and killed 8,000 while the flu has infected 13,000,000 and killed (estimate by CDC) as many as 30,000. What appears to be worrisome is that most health professionals point out that the fatality rate for COVID- 19 is much higher than the flu. This is short sighted as it is more than likely that millions of people have been infected by COVID-19 and not tested. To make matters worse, Trump has declared a State of Emergency which takes away many of our constitutional rights.
Natalie C (Florida)
@Matthew - additionally, the statistics shown are disingenuous. The deaths COVID-19 are largely due to pneumonia & sepsis (2 major causes of death across the globe in any given year). The highest risk patients are those with high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes & heart disease. I would expect statistically that if the authors are classifying the deaths from “COVID-19” and lumping them together, we should would see some expected corresponding reduction in the other causes to which these are being compared in the charts. In theses cases, the deaths may be an acceleration of an inevitable death due to the high risk factors anyway. The question becomes how much of an acceleration? Is it 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? I have not yet seen any analysis on this. I’m not trying to be insensitive to those who are greatly affected by this terrible virus, I’m just trying to point out the bias in the analysis.
LHP (02840)
@Natalie C Yes, the known death rates do not exclude underlying causes like cancer, or immunologically compromised patients who tested positive for Covid19. It would be meaningful if the physicians had reported Covid19 deaths where no other pathology was present. Deaths due to Covid19 alone.
@ Natalie C pneumonia and sepsis are complications of cover-19. They are immediate the immediate cause of death however they are due to the underlying covid infection. and thus directly attributable.
David J. Krupp (Queens, NY)
How many people in the USA have been hospitalized due to conoid-19 and what is their age distribution?
gregori (NY)
Why haven't we seen anything close to these numbers in China where the virus has been decreasing in infection rate for weeks now. Smoking is a good indicator of respiratory diseases (emphysema, etc). China has a 25% over all smoking rate which includes 50% of all males. For Comparison US has a 17.25% smoking rate with only 19.5% males. The hypertension death rate per 100,000 as per ICD codes in China is 17.4 vs 7.4 in the US. So China has 3Xs the males that smoke & more than 2Xs the rate of hypertension leading to death. So 2 of the most important measures of population health that have been linked to CoVid-19 clearly shows China to be much more susceptible in regards to serious cases of CoVid-19 and thus mortality. Add further that US medical care is much better than that in China. Why haven't we seen these catastrophic numbers in China where the curve has already leveled off or is downward. There is something very wrong here with these numbers and forecasts. They just don't make sense
John Huppenthal (Chandler, AZ)
@gregori "They just don't make sense." Hard to fully fathom the sledgehammer that hit Hubei in a split second when all the edicts landed. Everyone masked up. Contrary to CDC, masks provide a lot of protection, a huge amount of protection. Everyone had their temperature checked within days. Those with high temperatures were essentially confined Those with symptoms were confined. China is producing 200 million masks per day. U.S.? less than a million.
Jonathan Reed (Las Vegas)
@John Huppenthal Even if the masks only protect those near the wearer, if everyone is wearing a mask it can be very effective in preventing spreading. I think if we had abundant masks, we would be encourage to wear them in public.
Concerned Citizen (Everywhere)
@gregori you're still making the fatal mistake that you dont live in a failed state with inadequate health systems run at profit, lifestyle propaganda networks masquerading as news that has created a stunningly ignorant and arrogant public across all political orientations that is more likely to believe internet heresay rather than cited research, and a generalized bipartisan idea that fundamentally believes government isnt useful and social welfare should be dismantled.
rob (Ohio)
While we speculate where death by this virus will fall by age group, I found the other numbers (the solid ones) more interesting. Self inflected deaths dominate the early years before cancer and heart disease take over in the 40's. Cancer doesn't let go of its #1 position until the 80's when organ failures overwhelm it. So much information packed into the charts. Thanks! Only wish you'd have expanded to the top 10 causes.
Eric Salo (Montreal)
Thank you for your excellent article. The world needs more articles like this to stem the fear of a virus that for most is just another flu. While we certainly need to take steps to contain the Covid virus, destroying the world economy is going to far. People need to look at the death rate by age and location and realize that the danger is far less than what the political and media driven hype is suggesting
P.J. O'Connor (Lake Tahoe)
The world death rate is about 4% of those infected. Multiply 4% times your state's population. That's how many people could potentially die, if your state isn't taking enough steps to stop the contamination spread. Most of the deaths will be elderly people and those with existing health issues. So, stop just thinking about yourselves and isolate to save others.
Jeffrey (Seattle)
@P.J. O'Connor The death rate is nowhere near 4%. We must assume that there are literally hundreds of millions of Americans and others who have been infected but show no symptoms and will never be diagnosed and counted because it's simply not possible to test even half the population. Further, the overwhelming majority of deaths have been from the same part of the population who die of flu every year - the elderly and/or those people with underlying health problems.
Merritt Phillips (Salt Lake City)
@P.J. O'Connor Wouldn't it make more sense for the people at high risk (age 60+) to isolate themselves than to expect the entire population to isolate thus grinding the entire economy to a halt?
Alastair Gordon (TORONTO, Canada)
Numbers don't lie. From Johns-Hopkins and the Center for Disease Control: Coronavirus COVID-19: Approximately 7,494 deaths reported worldwide; 119 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 18, 2020. Normal Seasonal Flu: 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide; 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year. That's 119 deaths in the current outbreak of coronavirus vs. 12,000-61,000 deaths every year from normal seasonal flu. The victims mostly share the same medical profile: some combination of elderly, immunocompromised, asthmatic, or otherwise unwell. Given these hard indisputable numbers, can someone please help me put the current global response in perspective?
LAT (Denver)
@Alastair Gordon The flu has a death rate of approximately 0.1% of those who show symptoms, and COVID19 is showing at around 2-3% in China, although it is probably closer to 1% of those who show symptoms and 0.5% overall, given data from the Princess Cruise and other areas. COVID19 is also more contagious. Although the flu HAS killed more so far, these estimates are showing that COVID19 could kill far more given it's fatality rate, contagiousness, and resulting stress on the healthcare system. It is easy to compare with the flu, and while for most people the symptoms would be similar to the flu, the outcomes have the potential to be much worse. We will see one way or another, but hopefully these social distancing steps will at least spread out number of infections that occur at one time.
Concerned Citizen (Everywhere)
@Alastair Gordon do you guys understand how waves work.I'm really tired of having to explain to every mega smart dude like you how exponential work. trump was crowing about 50 cases s few weeks ago. the numbers get bigger.
Marcia Tallent (Georgia)
ABaron (USVI)
Looking at the drug overdose numbers I wonder if EMTs and other medical personnel will still be rushing to their sides to bring them back from the dead when they are already so overwhelmed at hospitals today. Competition for respirators and beds and nursing care combined with necessary triage may winnow that population faster than heroin and OxyContin combined.
MLChadwick (Portland, Maine)
@ABaron "That population" (drug users) is largely composed of Americans who have found themselves unable to obtain any kind of work that would pay enough to live on. Drug use is their signal that they're grabbing anything that will at least temporarily stop their unbearable pain. The cause of their drug use is America's determination to cling to extreme capitalism, no matter how many of our men and women suffer and die. Drug use does not reflect hundreds of thousands of individual personal failings, and it does not reveal worthless people who should hurry up and die. Nor can it be attributed to the drug manufacturers, though they did make addiction easier than necessary (just as the NRA makes their suicides by gun easier, and that's been rising too). Drug use by "those people" reflects the failings of our society. We can fix it, if we wish.
Steve Fortuna (Hawaii)
I'm in favor of most anything that removes more of my selfish Baby Boomer generation peers off the face of this planet so the younger generation can start tackling the problems we have caused. The recent surge of the mamby-pamby, status-quo Biden is reason and rejection of Bernie Sanders is enough reason for me to root for the deaths of 10s of millions of us old white dinosaurs who allowed Reaganism, corporatism and neoliberalism rape and pillage the middle class of this country the last 40 years. We've done a great job fighting perpetual wars and creating environmental it's time for the most selfish, consumerist, short-sighted generation to lie quietly in the dirt and hand the reigns over to millenials & GenX kids who will be saddled by perpetual debt and gig economy jobs while dodging a slew of future mutated viruses. Coronavirus is the first in a long line of fun that I'll NOT miss when I take the big dirt nap. Being alive in America today is a constant barrage of paper cuts - none fatal in themselves, but collectively toxic, damaging and life changing. Trump Kleptocracy & Incompetence. Recession. Data Breeches. Loss of Civil Rights. Loss of Economic Opportunity/Mobility. Destruction of public institutions and safety net. Lack of regulation and justice. It's enough to want to check out early. OK, Boomers, let's all hold our breath collectively on 5.......4........3........
RH Deutsch (MD)
@Steve Fortuna Do us all a favor...
Carol M (Chicago)
@Steve Fortuna It's none of my business if YOU want to check out early, but I'm 67 and I want to live a bit longer. Got stuff to do. Enjoying life. Sorry you are so sad and angry.
Matthew (Missouri)
@Steve Fortuna I understand your frustration and anger but your reasoning is way off base. It is corporate America who is the villain not the baby boomers.
This article is irresponsible journalism, the likes of which cause widespread misunderstanding and panic. Why would you take a list of the leading causes of death in the US, project the worst-case scenario, and put coronavirus at the top? Sensationalism, that's why. This virus has the potential to be very dangerous, is dangerous, but when the media routinely reports everything as such, people either 1. panic and hoard goods or 2. don't take reasonable precautions, against this virus or other consistent threats to health such as heart disease. The media, in an effort to be the first to report, are part of the problem, making it difficult to get reliable, trustworthy information, akin to the toilet paper hoarders, who, in an effort to assuage their panic, hinder those in greatest need from receiving necessities. Be responsible with your reporting. You don't have to have some novel information; just report the facts!
Rob Smoke (Denver)
There's a hyper-rational fallacy behind the shutdown of the US as response to Covid. Hyper-rational choice could be described as collective bargaining against a fated outcome. Whatever else happens, shutting down the misaligned social infrastructure of our lives is, at best, a temporary solution to a problem that may only be a precursor to the future threats of climate change and/or the global crises brought upon human civilization by its own inability to rationally assess any threat. Allowing institutionalized violence in all its forms is probably at least as dangerous as the contagion of the moment, admitting that it's still something worth fighting.
Will (UK)
Many thoughts, many good comments, but what jumped out at this ancient Brit was the huge increased danger to the under 40s from gun deaths! Shakes head...
Neal McElroy (Lake Lotawana)
Why Isn’t the Coronavirus Death Toll the Big Story? The one thing missing in all of this panic-driven coronavirus news is what? The number of deaths in the United States! 60 million get the Swine flu / 300,000 hospitalized. Where was the outrage.You realize that 300,000 people were hospitalized, over 60 million infected with the swine flu in 2009-2010, 17,000 deaths, the swine flu, and you don’t even remember it . The coronaviruses are – cold viruses. These diseases run their course. But when you announce that your objective is to contain the spread, you are… I’m sorry, folks, that’s a political decision, and it’s guaranteed to fail, by design. Have we contained the spread of cancer? Have we contained the spread…? Take your pick of any disease you want. Have we contained the spread? Have we stopped people from getting it? No.
Andrew (Texas)
@Neal McElroy There is no need to sink to despair yet. The idea is not to contain the virus completely. Rather, our goal is to "flatten the curve." If we slow the spread of the virus, we will have fewer critical cases at a time, which means the hospital system won't get overwhelmed and everyone who needs medical intervention will get it.
Merritt Phillips (Salt Lake City)
@Andrew And the best way to flatten that curve is to make recommendations to those over 60 to isolate themselves and take extra precautions. Closing schools and locking down entire cities makes no sense when it is mainly the age 60 and above that will be the ones needing hospitalization.
Abbey M (Los Angeles)
@Merritt Phillips This is untrue. 40% of people in the 20-50 age range require some form of hospitalization for Covid-19. Though the fatality rates are much much lower, their needing to be in the hospital and convalesce there clogs the healthcare system beyond its breaking point, so to let the disease run rampant amongst people younger than 60 years old would result in many more deaths than a total lockdown. The numbers were run on this scenario too, which was a part of the recent UK study that was published a couple of days ago. Again, we're all doing this to save the healthcare system from being completely overrun, because if it is then the mortality rates will skyrocket and there will be no system left to protect any of us from any disease, let alone Covid-19.
ZAW (Pete Olson's District(Sigh))
The President has failed. The Media has also failed. Americans don’t need to be constantly bombarded with worst case scenarios. It might bring ratings to the media outlets that publish them. But you have created widespread panic among Americans, and the panic will only make matters worse. . The feeling in the air reminds me of the days before Hurricane Rita made landfall in 2005. Katrina had just swamped New Orleans and Rita looked even bigger and scarier. And it was heading directly for Houston Texas. You media types did not hesitate to remind us of these things. So Everyone panicked. Even those who had no reason to evacuate and would have been better off staying put in a major storm, did so. The gridlock was epic. People died, many of them from dehydration, heat stroke, and underlying medical issues on the roads. The death toll would have been catastrophic had the storm not mercifully veered away from Houston at the last moment. . We need real news; not sensationalism. When should people go to the Hospital? How, exactly do we go about getting tested if we suspect we may have COVID19? What protects us from losing our jobs if we self quarantine? What are grocers doing to ensure that the delivery of goods (like toilet paper) to their stores is uninterrupted? The list goes on and on, and while everyone outdoes themselves to publish more eye popping estimates of fatalities, these important questions aren’t being answered.
Nick R. (Chatham, NY)
@ZAW The CDC and the New York Times provide real news. There are multiple, clear features about when to go to the doctor, how economists, business and the government are working together to find a solution to an economy in free-fall, and how the supply chain is holding up. Estimating the number of deaths is not sensationalism--it is realism. No one wants to envision 1 to 2 million deaths from Covid-19 in the US, but it is absolutely possible. I'm afraid many people are panicking and not paying attention to legitimate information being provided by real news sources. Don't watch cable TV bloviators, don't even listen to our untrustworthy president, do visit the CDC website. While we are unable to "Carry On," we can all try to Keep Calm.
Tom knorwlaski (Farmington ct)
‪My wife is a nurse and we have a 9 month old. For everyone out there please think about the healthcare workers that will be overwhelmed soon and do your part to make sure they come home every night. Hanging out in groups isn’t worth it right now- please help.‬
Matt (CO)
Its worth considering that the World Health Organization attributes over 4 million deaths annually to outdoor air pollution with small particle pollution being one of the main causes of asma, heart attacks and other diseases. Its good to see the government is willing to take drastic action to save lives, but they should take their blinders off. Why shut the Country down to reduce Corona virus deaths among the (mostly) elderly and then promote/subsidize/bail out coal, fossil fuel combustion engines and airlines?
@Matt There are many good reasons to discontinue the use of fossil fuels, but the comparison you're making is poorly framed, at best. The WHO figures you link to are global statistics, while the statistics in the article are national statistics. If covid-19 ends up only causing four to five million deaths globally, we will have avoided the worst case scenarios. Those scenarios, should they come to pass, involve global death tolls in the tens of millions.
Matt (CO)
@JB My point is that people/government are capable of making drastic changes quickly to help save lives. This is a good thing. However, I don't think people/government are always rational on what we consider to be problems that need immediate response. To be clear, I am NOT saying that we should ignore Covid-19. Rather, I am saying that we should stop ignoring that air pollution causes illness and deaths here in the US and worldwide. We now have more and more viable alternatives with respect to autos and power generation, but we are still buying lots of gas cars and even building coal power plants.
Abbey M (Los Angeles)
@Matt I don't know if you've read this but I just saw some articles on how quarantine is drastically reducing pollution... interesting side effect of all of this!
Merlin (NYC)
The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of a million a statistic. Joe Stalin
Rick Tornello (Chantilly VA)
Not if, but when.
Itamar (Jerusalem)
The article is interesting (and frightening), but your Sliders Game of How-Many-Will-Die is crass and gross.
Am (USA)
We should take this to show how unhealthy we are as a nation. This virus is not causing harm to the healthy, only further boosting their immunity. We should see this as an opportunity to realize that as a nation we need to focus on natural health and prevention not pharmaceuticals and treatment as much as we do. The other question is if it is true that the vast majority of those dying from this virus have underlying health issues or are actually dying from the pneumonia they contract after having contracted corona shouldn’t the death certificate say pneumonia, not covid? Also, why is all the money being spent on trying to find a vaccine that they will roll out without having a clue what negative affects it may have, instead of spending money working on what they can use to boost the immunity of the general population and what they can do to help people get well when they do contract it and are at risk. Another question is if we tank the economy into a recession by panic and hype over what may happen what does this do to the suicide death rate as despair rises due to job loss, home loss, inability to provide for families? Either way there will be loss of life. And we will really never know what the percentage is of those who die because we will never truly know how many contracted since many if not most show minor or no symptoms at all. These things should all be considered when asking the question, is this too much?
Joseph Conlon (Washington DC)
Didn’t the NYTimes also predict that Hilary Clinton would win the election in 2016?
Jeffrey (Seattle)
@Joseph Conlon She did win. The Donald only got the job thanks to the rec soccer Participation Trophy of American democracy, AKA the Electoral College.
Sean (California)
This article is based on two ridiculous premises. In reality, well over 70% of Americans will be infected and well less than 0.1% will die.
Catherine (Houston, Tx)
@Sean but that’s why they put in the fun and morbid slider we can play God with our little predictor machine. Meanwhile, Nero plays his fiddle.
Michael (Minnesota)
It would be nice if deaths were given a rate (over like 100,000 people). Also, deaths should be compared over an average lifetime, not over the year. Your risk of driving and cancer death is probably higher over your lifetime than COVID.
Gui (Miami)
Can someone in the editorial staff be so kind as to explain why the fatality-rate-O-meter does not go below 0.1% ?
Brenda (Colorado)
And a large demographic in the US: people with obesity. This may well prove to be a big risk factor for increased severity of disease and death.
John (Nevada)
@Brenda Hopefully
Benjamin Andersen (Las Vegas Nevada)
OMG ! ! ! What is wrong with this reporter ? Why would you write this article. You start by citing estimates and going with the most DRASTIC ones you could find . . . Have you not looked out the window ? Are people not ALREADY in such a panic that you thought it would be ok to throw a little gas on the fire ? Seriously ? I understand that Covid 19, not as you reported coronavirus, is a serious issue and is exactly what you should be reporting on. But show some sense for Christ’s sake. Don’t sensationalize the facts and scare people more than they already are. PLEASE USE YOUR POSITION AS A REPORTER TO AID IN THIS TIME OF DIRE CIRCUMSTANCES . . .
Merritt Phillips (Salt Lake City)
@Benjamin Andersen While the slider does allow for some scary estimates I found the data regarding risk by age group to be very useful. If we want to reduce 80% of the deaths from COVID-19 (regardless of what that number is base on infection and mortality rates) we need to focus on the over 60 age group. Only this group needs to take special precautions and they should be aware of that. If you are under 60 and in good health you have nothing to fear from COVID-19 and are "safe relative to other causes of death" to resume your normal activities. On the other hand if you are over 60 then limit your contacts with others, wash your hands very frequently and don't touch your face. That's the real take away from this story.
Hugh G (OH)
@Benjamin Andersen Why would the reporter write this? So people will read it and subscribe to the NYT. Nothing wrong with that, we all have to make a living. Lots of us are sitting around at home reading this stuff.
Melissa Lake (Philadelphia, PA)
@Merritt Phillips Your reasoning is flawed though because you assume that everyone over 60 and everyone with underlying health conditions can just isolate themselves from those who are going out and being exposed. If you’re in a so-called “sandwich” situation, caring for your elderly parents and you have teenagers, all under one roof, how are you supposed to manage that? Who exactly do you kick out or stop seeing? How do folks in high-risk groups get their groceries or go to their doctor appointments in the same spaces where community spread is happening? How do they earn a living?
nathan hope (usa)
Why was the common flu left out of this list you need to put that into perspective also.
@nathan hope Pneumonia/flu is there. It's right between Drug overdoses and Liver disease and cirrhosis.
stephenarmstrong (Massachusetts)
Am I reading this correctly: that in age groups < 40 years old, the highest cause of death is either guns or drugs?
Dani (El Dorado Hills CA)
@stephenarmstrong I believe the age group of 10-19 is going to include 18 & 19 year olds who are in the military, and mainly die in other countries.
Dave (Ohio)
@Dani not sure too many die overseas every year. Most of those are self-inflicted....
AB (Oregon)
@stephenarmstrong Yes. Opioids.
What these projections do not take into account are the indirect deaths that may occur if hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. Suffer a heart attack and need a ventilator as you slip into major cardiopulmonary failure? Sorry, they are all in use. Have a head on car collision with broken ribs and a tension pneumothorax requiring a chest tube as well as a traumatic brain injury leading to loss of consciousness? No ICU beds, critical care physicians or nursing staff available to monitor you. This is not a hoax and these scenarios are not fear mongering. We are wholly unprepared for this pandemic and the only thing we can do at this point is to practice strict social distancing to minimize the number of people who get infected and spread the disease further. You may not die from coronavirus but you may lose your life due to a non coronavirus illness because our healthcare resources have been utterly depleted. Stay home people.
Jack (Rumson, NJ)
@BCO Unless I missed it, the data don't reduce the number of other deaths (cancer, heart, etc.) because of deaths due to the virus.
@Jack Thats my point. Deaths due to other things like cancer, MVAs and heart attacks may actually increase because we won't have the resources to take care of those patients.
Merritt Phillips (Salt Lake City)
@BCO Good point. Those over 60 will likely account for over 80% of the extra beds/ventilators etc. Thus it is this age group that needs to take extra steps (very limited contact with others, handwashing, not touching face etc) to ensure the medical system doesn't get overwhelmed leading to sub-optimal care for those involved in car accidents or other health events.
jameister (colorado)
as an at risk senior, near 70, I am wondering if we would be better off with less over reaction, and more concern of the collateral damage. is the saving of three folks in a car worth running a school bus off the road over a cliff? politically: yes, in retrospect? no. we went over the cliff when we closed the economy down. there will be at least a 10:1 overkill from the cure worse than the disease. time to man up. accept the losses. these total losses, and I am in a pneumonia-history cohort, but speaking as one person: a generation of unemployed workers, and responsible business owners, and a trillion dollars or more debt for our children and grandchildren? lets do this: keep these precautions, but ONLY FOR A MONTH. Put a stop loss limit on it. we know the deaths will not go above these estimates, but hte economic and indirect human deaths will surpass the viral deaths. reopen everything after MayDay. mark my words, this is the best decision we can make.
Sean (Tampa)
@jameister At the risk of being criticized and told I am heartless and evil, you make very good points and quite frankly many of the older "at risk" population I have spoken to feel very much the same as you. They are concerned and taking their own precautions but worry the world has gone mad. Maybe we should take a step back and listen to the ones we are trying to protect?
Hugh G (OH)
@jameister Your idea does make sense, many people say the same thing. The problem is how to isolate the care givers, including family, from the at risk population. Perhaps we should be thinking about that more. Life has to go on, cratering the economy and putting a wide range of the population under stress is very detrimental to the overall health of the country
Candace (Pittsburgh, PA)
Italy's Dept. of Civil Protection recently reported that all but two deaths were caused by other conditions exacerbated by contracting COVID-19. All people who died, except for two of them, had 1-3 underlying conditions that caused death because the person had contracted COVID-19. And, the majority of deaths were in the elderly. They are still investigating the remaining two deaths to determine if there were any underlying conditions they were not initially aware of that may be responsible for mortality, exacerbated by COVID-19. This article includes subjective speculation that no one can prove. Unfortunately, data, such as what was recently reported in Italy, is difficult to find in the U.S., where fear and doomsday profiting prevails, much to the misfortune of the American citizens.
Donna Birdwell (Austin, TX)
Have they taken into consideration that many of the people who would have died this year (or next, or the one after that) of cancer, heart disease, dementia, etc. will NOT die of those things because they've already died of COVID-19? This will depress the numbers of deaths due to those causes, making COVID-19 look even more deadly by comparison.
Andrew (Texas)
@Donna Birdwell I don't think that will make a huge difference, except for age-specific numbers. There are 327 million people in the US so losing 1 million people won't affect the statistical death rates that much.
Bob (New Brunswick)
Lotta great points here on both sides of the discussion, one of the better ones being how this will help prepare the world for the next pandemic. I think we all have to agree that the current infection rate is MUCH higher than these numbers show( 4 out of 20(?) Brooklyn Nets tested positive, none probably would have been tested or shown up if they weren't NBA players). Which also means the death rate is MUCH lower as well. Whether the permanent damage to the world economy(and subsequently lives and health) is worse than death toll from COVID-19 is yet to be determined.
JMcAuley (USA)
To fully understand the impact it is important to remember that many COVID-19 deaths will be in those who would have died and been categorized in other rows in your graphic. These will not be completely additive deaths, they will be deaths in people with cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer, etc. This has historically been seen with influenza as well.
Andrew (NC)
@JMcAuley Agree. It would be more informative to show these projections as a split bar chart if you want detail, or just as a percent increase in overall mortality if you don’t. Glad to finally see an article contextualizing our fears, disappointed that it handles data badly.
Katherine Johnson (Durham, NC)
But you don't include statistics on deaths from causes other than disease.
Lynne (Rhode Island)
@Katherine Johnson Read down time the age charts. Includes guns, drugs, suicide, car crashes.
tanstaafl (Houston)
It should be obvious to anyone that the extreme measures taken by governments are too destructive for their own good. Yes, extreme efforts should have been targeted at the frail elderly. The rest of it is nonsense that has destroyed the economy and ruined lives.
Donna Birdwell (Austin, TX)
@tanstaafl It's also about not overwhelming the healthcare system. Do you want them to contact you when they have to decide who gets the last available ventilator? What about the exhausted physicians and respiratory therapists who end up getting infected? This is a hard call either way, but I'm in favor of being the community in which we take care of one another first and figure out how to restore the economy to health later.
Merritt Phillips (Salt Lake City)
@Donna Birdwell If extreme measures are applied to only the elderly (60 and above or you could even just go with 70 and above) then the health care system will NOT be overwhelmed. It is the older age groups that will be going to the hospitals, by having them limit personal contact etc then the curve will be flattened.
Melissa Lake (Philadelphia, PA)
@Merritt Phillips You keep posting that. What’s your source for that (reputable research or medical organization, mathematical model)?
Nathan Benn (NC)
Scale does not go down low enough to match the actual infected and death rates of the highest currently reported countries. How can this be a serious article?
Jeff (Colleyville, TX)
Even the noted other causes of death is deceptive. interesting that "Gun" deaths are noted this way. According to the US dept of Health and human services, 60% of gun deaths are suicides and a good percentage is accidental or justified...your efforts are so transparent and so dark! the numbers make no sense at all. Of the 1.38 Billion people in China, there are only 3,237 Covid-19 deaths while they had over 100,000 flu deaths. and, in China, the weekly Covid-19 deaths are declining signifying the downslope of the curve (see Farr's Law). Sorry, there is no statistical support or even any rational argument I have heard that supports anything close to what is presented here. its as if we are part of some sinister social experiment or even something more sinister. How easily the sheep are tricked by the wolves. Sheepdogs must stay vigilant and speak truth.
John (Nevada)
@Jeff Do you realize what China did to limit deaths?!!
Joe (Milwaukee)
@Jeff Amen, brother! I am no conspiracy theorist, but it feels like something fishy is going on. I am starting tp think Amazon is behind it all... the facts just don't add up.
abj slant (Akron)
Key to this estimation are the words, "...if nothing is done to contain it." Granted, this clown administration is astonishing inept, and its leader displays daily his ignorance, but I am heartened by the state and local leaders who have stepped up, listened to the science, and understood the threat. Let Paula White, Trump's 'spiritual advisor', continue to wring her hands and continue to line her pockets. Let Stephen Miller, Trump's senior advisor, continue to rant against those scary brown people. Locally, Americans are answering the call. And hopefully, Congress will provide the necessary measures for the millions who will be affected by this economically, or I guarantee they will be booted out.
G Good (NY)
All fear, all the time. What possible benefit can there be in putting a "slider" in the article? Reporting pure speculation is bad enough. Literally giving people a vehicle to fuel their worst fears is irresponsible.
Pat (Virginia)
@G Good Agree. I fear we are destroying our economy on fear. Don't agree with these high estimates. For the vast majority of people -- this is minor, not even detectable. What happened in 2017, when 60,000 people died from ... the simple flu. Should we shut down folks every year.
Luca (Atlanta, GA)
@Pat The difference between the coronavirus and the flu are: 1. Far more people get the flu and the deaths although numerically higher are proportionately smaller. Percentage-wise, death rates from coronavirus have been reported to be anywhere from 8 to 23 times higher. So, yes, we can have from 60,000 x 8 to 60,000 x 23 dead from coronavirus if we decide to let coronavirus spread as broadly as we allow the flu. 2. We understand the flu. We do not understand the coronavirus. We don't have vaccines for the coronavirus, for example, to protect our most vulnerable. 3. As a result, treating coronavirus patients requires significantly more medical resources, which means we have less to care for those who need it. Say you have a heart attack and your local ER is full of intubated coronavirus patients. That is not going to go well for someone. We don't want that to happen. Until we have a vaccine, we need to take precautions.
Caryl (Alabama)
@G Good I agree, too. I am tired of reading articles that either contain almost entirely speculation or the results of ONE study. One study?! I like the NYT but am beginning to think some of the reporters are getting desperate to find material.
Patrick McK (ct)
This is meaningless. At the upper end of the scale, (50% and 3%), it gives about 5 million casualties, while the deaths from other causes REMAIN THE SAME! More sensible would be an estimate of the change in life expectancy for the different age groups. Minutes? Days? Months? At the lower end of the scale, I would bet minutes or days.
Donald (NJ)
Thomas Malthis would love these scenarios!
MayberryMachiavellian (Mill Valley, CA)
Left out of this is the fact that — at a minimum — the three leading causes of death are considered by most to be death in the due course of aging, which every mortal human understands is inevitable.
Jennifer Stuber (Seattle)
Where are suicides in this table as the 10th leading cause of death? What does guns deaths mean?
Dave (California)
In every area that's got ahead of this thing (Korea, Hubei, Singapore, other parts of China) there's a strong social norm to wear masks. Even a napkin held over your face significantly protects others - it pribably does nothing for yourself but that's not the point. We should be manufacturing, distributing, and mandating masks as fast as we can. And those without masks should be making them out of paper towels and tape. It's hard to believe this would not save lives.
Michael Jennings (Iowa City)
@Dave The mask deters touching the face - a hard habit to break. Since there's a shortage, the government line is that you don't need a mask unless you're sick. If masks were mandated then government would have to provide them. It won't.
anne from france (france)
The fatality rate in France, where we have taken extreme measures to contain, is 2%. Just sayin'. Stay home, take this seriously. If you're infected and you take a bed, the teenager with appendicitis has a lower chance of survival. It's not about you.
Turkey from (Driver)
@anne from france ,I live in Turkey and I do not believe the news about the virus. I want to read the news from reliable sources. What kind of precaution should we take?
Gardengal (Salmon)
Decimating the global economy so that we boomers can outrun death for a bit longer is madness.
@Gardengal I used to think that. But now I look forward to the book called "How the Coronavirus Saved the Planet".
RES (Seattle and Delray Beach)
@Gardengal Uh, some boomers are only fifty-five years old and have hardly been "outrunning death." You also don't take into account all those under age sixty with a preexisting condition. And I'm sure all the overweight/obese people under sixty with prediabetes are at greater risk of complications and death from the coronavirus, and they place more of a burden on health-care workers just by virtue of their weight.
Bill (Massachusetts)
Check my math for me on the WHO site, but isn't China's infection rate 0.0057%? I see 81,000 cases of flu in a population of 1.4 billion. The calculator does not even go below one percent infection rate. That is hundreds of times higher than the China infection rate. Since it is meant to show scenarios, not only worst case, is this misleading?
Craig (Texas)
Nice tactic. Give people slider bars letting them go to whatever level scares them. Scared people are easier to manipulate.
Tim (GA, USA)
Can't help but wonder where HIV/AIDS ranks on this list since it isn't mentioned and regularly claims many lives every year...
Stephen Rinsler (Arden, NC)
I am an old person (77 years of age currently). I am a retired physician and volunteer at a local free clinic. I believe it is important for oldsters to be able to contribute and perhaps to some degree shield the young from threats, rather than be advised generically to isolate ourselves. Such isolation may reduce the immediate death toll, but the gain in our longevity is likely to be very little. And lonely is very sad. Stephen Rinsler, MD
Merritt Phillips (Salt Lake City)
@Stephen Rinsler I believe that eventually everyone is going to be exposed to this virus and a 30% infection rate seems reasonable. Right now the main issue is to flatten the curve so we don't overrun the medical systems' ability to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Since COVID-19 is 20 times more likely to kill a 70-year-old compared to a 40-year-old then preventing exposure to a 70-year-old is 20 times more likely to flatten the curve compared to a 40-year-old. The data shows that it is up to those over 60 to take extra precautions (minimize contacts, extra handwashing, non-touching of the face) to flatten the curve. It's a sacrifice this age group needs to make for the good of us all. Meanwhile, the rest of the population can get back to work to get our economy back on track. (my 88-year-old father in law is practicing self-isolation, I safely video chat with him daily to help with the loneliness issue)
Stephen Rinsler (Arden, NC)
@Merritt Phillips, thanks for comment. My view is rather different from yours . "Extra precautions" are recommended for all, not just people over 60. If our medical care resources are overwhelmed, we will need to prioritize who gets what care. In that circumstance, I believe priority should go to those who have a long life expectancy (think children, their caretakers and other young and middle agers). I would give myself a lower priority, even though I believe I am considered a pretty vigorous and functional person. With this in mind, I reject the idea that I must hide in my room for the next however number of months before this coronavirus is no longer considered such a great threat.
Marty Goldman (Southampton,NY)
Sometimes being old has it advantages, while I am not looking to downplay the effects of COVD-19, or it dangers, I would just like to put things in its proper perspective. Prior to 1955 there were 20,000 cases in the US every year of POLIO, anyone born after 1950, has no idea how devastating POLIO was, you got Polio you were crippled for life (FDR), or you spent your life in an iron lung, so while this virus is dangerous I will take it over POLIO.
Dennis Callegari (Australia)
I am disappointed at seeing the comments here trying to pretend that there is no problem. That's wishful thinking. Wishful thinking is NOT reality. One more thing. Trying to compare COVID-19 to cancer is really quite pointless. Cancer is NOT a pandemic disease; cancer is NOT contagious.
doug (nyc)
This is little consolation, but death rates due to cancer and other comorbidities will also fall. Some people who would have died of these other diseases will have already passed away.
Akunosh (Canada)
@doug Many people who would have recovered from cancer and other comorbidities might die, due to not getting treatment
Stuart E. (Washington State)
While the statistics outlining the number of deaths in the USA as a result of the Coronavirus shown in the article are quite sobering, it begs a very important question. “How many people who are projected to die from the Coronavirus would have died anyway from another malady??” Since the disease seems to prey on the old and infirm I really wonder what the true death rate is considering that many of those who are projected to die of Coronavirus would have died anyway and also required serious medical/hospital attention?? Are we assuming a much higher actual death rate then will actually be the case and unduly panicking the general population???
Bur Davis (Seattle WA)
@Stuart E. -- absolutely agreed. China has reported ca. 81,000 cases so far, in a population of 1.36 billion. That's an infection rate of 0.00595% (cases/population). And this article is citing a low-end estimate of 20%? Even given that we may have been complacent to start with, and are not as communal a culture as China, that figure just doesn't make sense.
Jon O. (Seattle)
@Bur Davis I don’t think we can truly trust any data that has come from China. A country with a subpar healthcare system at best; if the U.K. and Germany is predicting 50-60% of their population is likely to be affected by this, it’s fair to say that the figures China has provided are grossly misrepresented.
doug (nyc)
@Stuart E. Everyone dies, it's a question of when and how.
maybemd (Maryland)
Stop comparing death by coronavirus to deaths due to other, non-contagious, causes. The difference is obvious, I hope. Contagious vs. non-contagious.
Iman Onymous (The Blue Dot)
Great article. And I really like the calculator. Clever idea.
Bur Davis (Seattle WA)
China has reported ca. 3300 deaths and ca. 81,000 cases so far, in a population of 1.36 billion. That's an infection rate of 0.00595% (cases/population) and a mortality rate of 3.99% (deaths/case). Even with fewer containment measures in the US than in China, is it realistic to assume that the US would have 3,400 times the infection rate (Lipsitch's low-end estimate of 20%) than China, and 62 times as many deaths as China (CDC's low-end estimate of 200,000 in the US vs. 3300 actual in China)?
Bsloma (Mpls, MN)
@Bur Davis do you understand we are 3 months only into a worldwide pandemic? All the things presented here are projections, but they are based on the real data that now exists. This virus does not just go away. The scale of this could be massive, globally and nationally.
djh (CT)
@Bur Davis Wuhan has a population of 10 million. They barricaded that city early on. We should be using the 10M number and not the 1.4B number. About 1% infection rate. We haven't locked down any cities yet.
Jeff (Colleyville, TX)
@Bsloma sorry but you don't get it. look up the term Farr's law. Farr was a noted epidemiologist. China is on the downslope of the curve and deaths are now declining each week. Also, the death rate is likely far far less than what is projected because it is widely accepted that many more people are infected but asymptomatic. I have heard estimates that 8 people were infected but not tested for every 1 that was. viruses like this are not unusual and the curves suggest that this will be far less than Swine Flu and Sars. you must consider political motivations of those making these claims and the leanings of those media outlets that choose who's research to publish.
Jj (East coast)
I cannot help but being convinced that this was engineered in China perhaps it was or was not designed to be delivered in the manner in which it was but the timing and the facts are far too convincing to me. The countries only level four bio lab located precisely at Ground Zero China's disregard for human life especially of their own people their stated desire for world domination coupled with the recent unprecedented challenges to them from Washington all threatening the ruling parties lust for power versus an random act of nature being a mirror coincidence if you buy that I have a bridge you may be interested in.
J (Il)
@Jj Agreed! Been saying it all along.
B (MN)
@Jj random act of nature? How about decades of deforestation only encouraged by our own need to consume many, many cheap products. So much easier to blame the "other".
Padman (Boston)
"If you use this article's assumptions that 30% of people get infected, in China that would amount to 900,000,000. " The arithmetic seems to be totally wrong. How did you get the number 900 million? What is the current population of China? 1.45 billion What is 30% of 1.45 billion? the answer is not 900 million. The answer: 435 million.
Bur Davis (Seattle WA)
@Padman: Also, note that the actual number of infected reported by China is currently ca. 81,000, an infection rate of only 0.0059%.
Bur Davis (Seattle WA)
@Padman: Also, note that the actual number of infected reported by China is currently ca. 81,000, an infection rate of only 0.0056% (of 1.45 billion).
Tom Rowe (Stevens Point WI)
Well, as a 75 year old man with heart issues, this got my attention. What I would like to know, and have not seen estimates of, is the accuracy of the diagnostic test. In particular I want to know the rate of false positives and false negatives. I also want to know whether having recovered from it if you can be reinfected. After all, we get colds all the time then get another one.
r bix (Marco Island FL)
@Tom Rowe Don't know the accuracy but I was surprised to see early data that showed that even with restricting access to tests to those most likely to be exposed, over 80% of the tests came back negative. That stat is not readily available so I don't know how it is tracking lately (lots more testing is being done, more positives and likely a lot of negatives still).
B (MN)
@Tom Rowe there have been cases of reinfection. Accuracy of the diagnostic tests is a good point, I'd be interested in those numbers too.
Beth (MD)
@Tom Rowe From what I have read, reinfection is not likely and scientifically, this makes sense. When you get infected with something you develop antibodies to it. If your body encounters that organism again, it is able to quickly mount an immune response and fight it off. This is the entire premise behind vaccines. We get repeated "colds" that might seem the same, but in reality each time we have cold symptoms we have been infected with a new organism (various strains of coronavirus being among them!). Even if you got COIVD-19, recovered, then were exposed to it again, you would have antibodies that would help you fight it off faster and with fewer or no symptoms. You are exposed to things all the time and never know it because your body has antibodies to fight it off. People who have been diagnosed are being treated with plasma donated by those who have recovered for this very reason - it contains antibodies.
zula (Brooklyn)
What about those testing kits, Mr. Trump? Seems as if we'll need them until the pandemic you claim to have predicted "washes through."
Frank (California)
This is irresponsible. You are using the worst case scenario for coronavirus. None of the countries that have had coronavirus have had even CLOSE to this many deaths. But....I am glad, at least, that there is finally some perspective being put on this. We are about to have possible martial law and perhaps a Great Depression. Millions will lose their livelihoods. We'll maybe even be told to hide indoors and give up al of our culture, our life, our friendships, our loves, our dreams. All to (maybe) save fewer lives than heart disease kills every year. Or cancer. It is absurd. We should have older people stay indoors, and we should practice social distancing and wash our hands. We should test, and isolate sick people. And look for a vaccine. But the rest of us need to get back to work. A. S. A. P.
Geoff (New York)
@Frank This is akin to throwing hundreds of thousands of older Americans into the gutter who will be suffering at their greatest time of need. Society has always sacrificed and shown compassion to help those less able to cope. Without removing protective measures to limit the spread of disease, the infection rate will go up among younger people, they will bring the virus back into their homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Not to mention these less at risk people will further tax and an overwhelmed health system and unfairly the burden the generous doctors and nurses that are going the extra mile even at risk to themselves. All lives, young and old are of equal value.
Merritt Phillips (Salt Lake City)
@Geoff The vast majority of younger people will get infected and survive without needing a hospital visit. This results in antibodies to COVID-19 so they can't get reinfected or expose others. It's unfortunate that COVID-19 poses such a high risk to those over 60 or with other health issues but the only way to protect these people is for themselves to take proper steps.
Baron95 (Westport, CT)
So China, a country of ˜1,300,000,000 people, which was the only country truly caught by surprise by the virus, with a late start responding, saw infections peak at ˜80,000 and deaths peak at ˜3000. That is an infection rate of 0.006% and a fatality rate of 0.0002%. South Korea, the second country with a runaway infection, and a population of ˜51M, saw infections likely plateauing at ˜9,000 and fatalities plateauing at ˜90. That is an infection rate of 0.018% and a fatality rate of 0.0002% (exactly the same as China's). Yet, somehow the fear mongers want us to believe that the US will sell over 1M deaths. Pleeeeaaaase.
Jj (East coast)
@Baron95 yes and no yes your math is correct but no in the sense that the estimates are predicated on the scenario in which we do nothing versus taking draconian measures to prevent the unchecked spread of the disease
Billypistachios (Montana)
@Baron95 Its not like China and S. Korea are done with this and antibody testing would probably reveal a higher infection rate and a corispondingly lower death rate. I would take the Chinese numbers with a whole shaker of salt in any event.
r bix (Marco Island FL)
@Baron95 Do the comparison to the European countries which have more freedom and despite the advance notice are faring very poorly. Italy was the start, but Spain, Germany, and France are exploding with it right now. It is still early days, the reason for the "fear mongering" is that without controls this will likely be very bad but with controls we can reduce the damage. The impact on the healthcare systems in Europe is overwhelming them and moderately sick younger people are beginning to die as they can't get access to needed healthcare. Doctors and nurses are not immune and the faster / harder they work, the more likely they are to get infected and reduce the capacity of the system.
Rich r (Denver)
We won’t throw in the towel for cancer or heart disease, but for the corona virus, we’ll surrender $7 trillion in asset value and government expenditure, guarantees and printed money? In like, what, six days? And tell people they have to stay in their house, for two to eight weeks. Americans, sitting at home, for eight weeks. Seriously? Mark my words; Trump will figure out in 14-days how to spin this into some degree of Marshal Law and “temporarily” suspending the November election. So that we can save the lives of 6 of every 100,000 Americans? WWII was a sacrifice. Obviously 9-11 changed our behaviors forever. This? If you told me this was a set-up by the Chinese government to bring down the US and Western world, it would be almost impossible to refute. That we took the bait is a reflection on how complacent we’ve become in choosing a federal government.
r bix (Marco Island FL)
@Rich r in WW2 we had 440,000 fatalities over 4 years. Our population is a bit more than double now, so that would be be equivalent to maybe 125,000 per year now. This is not much compared to these other causes of mortality. The regular flu easily kills way more than 9-11 EACH YEAR so apart from a psychological event, it was not really that significant. In the grand scheme of things an extra million deaths in the US will be a noticeable and sad event but should not be civilization ending. Social distancing will not stop this but if it slows it down enough it will allow the healthcare system to be less overwhelmed and save some number that otherwise would have died, maybe a lot. We have been pouring resources into cancer research for decades with only partial success. This pandemic is something that everyone will play a part in, either as an aid in spreading it or and aid it slowing it. The panic buying of toilet paper and hoarding of hand sanitizer is not a good indicator that we will manage this gracefully.
AS (New York)
Could it be the allocation of resources is based on the worldview of men in their 70s such as Trump and Biden?
B (MN)
@Rich r what nonsense. Pretending this is China's intention or even saying they're the sole accidental reason is ridiculous. Deforestation prompted very much by our own greed for everything cheap cheap cheap and new new new are much likelier culprits, but it's much harder to face that then point the finger.
Erica Blair (Portland. Oregon)
These figures presume no specific treatment for people infected with covid-19. No drug treatments have been discussed in the media, in fact. Why is that? Haven't people with the virus been treated in Chinese hospitals? When they're told to go to a hospital, don't they receive treatments? Please discuss victim deaths with/without anti-viral drugs in hospital compared to those who stay home alone. Anywhere. Also, please tell us the rate of death with and without respirators. These numbers look like standard actuarial tables with the addition of comparisons to a very small subset of tested victims. It stokes fear at best, along with frustration at the lack of potentially useful information.
r bix (Marco Island FL)
@Erica Blair Little mention of antivirals has been made, partly because very few exist and none are known to be effective, they may be, but so far data is not available. Ventilators help but with enough cases we will run out and they are not 100% effective.
Frances Grimble (San Francisco)
The more often people are told that no one will not die just because they are younger than 60, the better. Also, Covid-19 deaths will be *added to* all the other causes of death for people of all ages. Car crashes, drug overdoses, cancer, etc., will not just go away. And an overwhelmed hospital system will be less effective at treating everything, not just Covid-19.
Yirmin (Boston)
I noticed that smoking was left off the list. The annual deaths from smoking are 480,000 per year... same as ths one estimate for this virus... Of course what is funny is that this virus is going to burn out eventually and no longer kill anyone... but the 480,000 that die from tobacco related illnesses will die every year. So the real question is why are we in panic mode for this virus and ignoring tobacoo? Shouldn't be be banning any tobacco right now if we are in this kind of panic for one time loss of 480,000 people when cigarettes are going to kill that many every year?
Suzy (DE)
@Yirmin Younger generations don’t smoke. Of course they have started vaping instead but I think that was a blip and is over now after all the severe problems. So, the smokers will all die out. Heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema etc are all related to smoking so it wouldn’t be able to be a line item on this chart
MB (Ohio)
@Yirmin I could be wrong, but I would think deaths caused by smoking would fall under "Cancer" and "Emphysema and COPD." Those diseases are what kills people, not the smoking itself.
Jj (East coast)
@Yirmin you don't understand Philip Morris pays a hefty dividend
George Craig (Atlanta, GA)
Considering that the official death rate in China is 3.4%, but your "worst-case scenario" only lets us slide the rate up to 3%, it's pretty obvious that you're not really thinking about the real worst-case scenarios. From all of the first-hand accounts in Wuhan, the actual death rate was much higher than China's official count; they managed to burn out 3 out of the 18 incinerators and had to bring in 40 new ones... How about this: Globally, as of today, there have been 7,953 deaths and 81,694 recovered. That puts the death rate at just under 10%. Outside of China, with its supposed 3.4% mortality rate, the dead to recovered ratio is absolutely atrocious; there is one death out of every 4 completed cases. For the math-disabled, that's a death rate of 25%. It would seem that a slider reaching 25% for a worst-case scenario would make more sense. After all, it takes 6-12 days for symptoms ot manifest, then another 18-32 days to either die or recover. And don't forget that "recovered" isn't like recovering from the flu. You get to deal with permanent heart, lung, kidney and/or liver damage and a sizable risk of sterility.
Sergei (ND)
@George Craig lol. Do not forget to account for 80% of people who are infected, but show no symptoms. About 2% or lower seems to be the mortality, which might be an overestimate because more people may be infected and show no symptoms and therefore never get tested. There is no need for fear mongering just because it temporarily feels good.
Sean (California)
The correct solution: instruct the immunosuppressed/elderly to quarantine. Allow the virus to spread among the healthier populations to enable herd immunity to develop. (The definition of healthier can be dynamically adjusted based on real-time hospital capacity to treat). When the 80% of the population who will demonstrate no symptoms is fully infected/recovered/immunized then life will become significantly safer for the at risk population. Suspending the economy at large is a much worse solution.
Billypistachios (Montana)
@Sean Absolutely, the tricky bit will be threading the needle so to speak, once vastly more testing comes on line these extreme blunderbuss tactics can be replaced with a much more granular and individualized approach.
John Mallory (Florida)
@Sean this is basically the UKs orginal plan. makes a lot more sense than this current mess.
Jeff (Colleyville, TX)
@Sean precisely! we have had these viruses for years but they used to go unnamed and doctors might note that "something is going around". humans need to continually develop our immune systems to become resistant.
philly (Philadelphia)
Just about everyone is going to get the virus at some point, so all we are doing now is delaying the inevitable and destroying the economy. Seems like a fair trade (sarcasm).
B (MN)
@philly if we all got it at once we would overwhelm the hospital system. These measures are to try and prevent choosing which person gets a hospital bed and which one gets left to die.
D (Thailand)
The current death rate is 3.6%, but when only considering resolved cases it's actually over 5%... yet the slider caps at 3%?
John Huppenthal (Chandler, AZ)
China masked up 100%, by producing 200 million masks per day. The U.S, with double China's economic strength, is producing less than one million masks per day. Media quoted one young woman returning to China because England is "not taking the virus seriously". Her evidence? "People are not wearing masks". CDC continues the insanity of saying that masks do not provide protection. Every major Asian country is bringing their crisis under control by having everyone wear masks. We need twenty to fifty million masks per day. I live in Arizona with its 20 infections. One victim posted a video describing his experience. He went to get checked wearing an N95 mask after finding out that he had been in close personal contact with another victim. He described the reaction of the health car providers looking at his mask as "though they were seeing a psychopath". None of the healthcare providers who interacted with him were adequately protected. His wearing a mask protected them. Our healthcare system will likely soon become a superspreader institution like those of China. The healthcare providers failed to prescribe anti-virals necessary to fight the virus. As he described symptoms in the three week infection, obviously he does not realize how close to the edge he remains. In a flu report, CDC reports 43% of flu fatalities were not prescribed the anti-virals necessary to fight the flu. Evidently, neither are Covid-19 victims.
@John Huppenthal I agree with much of what you said, but at this point there are no antivirals established to be effective against coronavirus as it is a novel pathogen. There are studies ongoing around the world testing antiviral agents but no data yet as to what is effective. Throwing currently available drugs at this virus with no idea how to use them effectively risks causing resistance.
Doug Terry (Maryland, Washington DC metro)
When I was studying the preliminary statistics on the disease a week ago, I came up with similar numbers and first sent them to my friends and contacts and, a day or so later, after reviewing the stats further, I posted similar numbers here on the Times. (One person accused me of scare tactics and it is clear now that the numbers I posted reflected real potentials.) As far as I know, I was the first person in the nation to suggest that the potentials for death could be above 1 million. My projections were based on publicly available information and statements by Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is very careful not to try scare people but, in that process, he has failed to state flatly, boldly enough what we face. I would suppose that he is more blunt in meetings behind closed doors. The best opportunity to defeat the coronavirus probably passed two or three weeks ago. With exponential growth in infections, the sooner you act the better the likelihood is of success and, of course, the opposite occurs when there are delays. It is no stretch to say that the current administration in Washington, DC, has allowed a situation to fester in which thousands are likely to die who might otherwise have been saved. We are in a race against time and, if we don't win, the turmoil the nation will face will be unprecedented.
Fourteen14 (Boston)
200,000 to 1,700,000 projected US deaths are absolutely ridiculous (talk about a hoax!). Let's instead look at reality: China. China now is down to about 15 deaths per day and about the same number of new daily cases, with four times the population we have. On March 16th. China had 11 deaths and 13 new cases with a population of 1,400,000,000. Total deaths as of March 16th were 3,226 with 403 more projected from their 4.49% death rate and currently outstanding 8,967 cases of infection. Their fatality rate goes down every day and approximately 15 new cases (that number also declines daily) are added to the total outstanding cases of infection. So China's C19 deaths should not get over 4,000, total. We have 1/4th the population. How then is it possible for our deaths to be even close to 200,000 - the CDC's conservative projection? (I'll not speculate that the CDC, headed by Big Pharma execs via the revolving door, have any motivation or conflict of interest to boost Pharma stock prices, although I'd like to note for the record, that in January 2020, Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who after leaving the CDC became president of Merck’s vaccine division, sold half her Merck stock options for $9.11 million. She missed a bit of the recent big run-up but still has Merck stock worth $9,000,000) Anyway, I estimate less than 1,000 deaths in the US from C19. I could be wrong, but not That wrong.
@Fourteen14 China practiced extreme social distancing to get the spread to slow down. Residents there are also using PPE ,which are currently not available at many hospitals in the US due to hoarding and, ironically, depleted supply since many of these products are made in China. Finally, China's data is considered highly suspect.
Catherine (Houston, Tx)
@BCO @fourteen14 I’m not smart enough to figure this out...but what if we say China’s data is X times greater than what they’re reporting? (Suppose instead of 15 a day it’s 150, or initial reporting is off by a factor of 10). Then what does the projection show?
Recon0321 (Chicago)
@Fourteen14 It is now April 1st. Yesterday, there were 912 deaths for just that day in the US. Yes, you were wrong - you were that wrong.
Space Needle (Seattle)
Policy makers at State and now Federal levels have decided that all human activity in the US must come to a complete and utter halt in order to stop the spread of this virus. In doing this, they are inflicting immeasurable damage to millions of lives, to our institutions, and to civilization itself. It may the case that our response to this virus ends up costing more in human life - mortality, lost livelihoods, destruction to democracy and civil order - than the disease itself. We are playing with fire here - and little thought has been given to the costs we are inflicting. In that sense, our response feels like an irrational "panic" - where even the mention of reasonable alternatives is dangerous to the questioner. Time will tell whether this unprecedented response was our best choice - or a herd mentality where we threw our entire society under the bus in a mad rush of irrationality.
Geoff (New York)
@Space Needle You are absolutely correct when you say that time will tell if this unprecedented response was our best choice. The scaling back of activities may have some positive psychological and societal benefits that are yet unrecognized. Collectively, as a nation it might give pause for reflection on what is most important to us. People will be spending more time with their families, being outdoors, and reflecting on the worth of truly meaningful things. I don't deny that hardship looms and suffering is bound to occur in whatever scenario plays out. Perhaps the pause in the pumped up frenzied activities of normal life can give many people the opportunity to reflect on the fragility of life. And to calm down, realign and re-focus on some core values that much of the population never knew or has forgotten.
DanBal (Nevada)
With stories like this and many others like it running nonstop in the media, I can see why Americans are panicking and are emptying store shelves of all the staples they can find, including, for some reason, toilet paper. Although the authors of the article state that the number of Americans that will be infected and die from the novel coronavirus is hard to predict, for the sake of discussion, they assume that 30% of Americans will be infected and 480,000 will die--even though no other country where where the virus had been present for weeks before it hit the U.S. shores, including China, S. Korea, Japan and Italy, has anywhere near this infection rate. (That's even assuming that China is greatly underreporting its figures.) Even the Spanish flu, the worst pandemic in modern history, starting in 1918, didn't infect as many Americans, at 25%. Back then, we didn't have the vaccines and other medical advances like we have today. And unlike the Spanish flu, the vast majority of novel coronavirus patients will recover. I understand that the elderly and sick are vulnerable, and we don't have enough hospital beds or respirators. Also, the botched preparations by the Trump administration have left us in a difficult spot. We all must take many extra precautions. But one has to ask, is the suffering that will be caused by shutting down most of the U.S. economy, along with the major disruptions to American life, justified by what we know now about the Covid-19 outbreak?
Billypistachios (Montana)
@DanBal These measures obviously can not continue indefinitely or even for long vastly expanded testing is imperative.
Andrew Brown (Bangkok, Thailand)
This was such a great idea for an article, with the sliders etc. However one really important thing needs to added. If a patient dies of coronavirus, the grim reality is that person is no longer able to die of cancer, for example. So coronavirus, in proportion to other causes, may become even deadlier than the predictions in your article. That sounds terrifying until you look at the flip side. A higher number of deaths from coronavirus should lead to a lower number deaths from other diseases since people cannot die twice. In fact, theoretically, overall life expectancy might actually improve, once you balance out all the numbers. Andrew Brown
K Henderson (NYC)
Many seem to be saying in the comments some variation of "if mostly the elderly will die from CV, then is it a big deal." Yipes, that is eye-opening for folsk to be thinking like that.
John Sullivan (Sloughhouse , CA)
Widespread testing and the intrusion into/an the insertion of the government into everyday business will be like being in a totalitarian /country. Americans will begin civil disobedience if this goes on for more than a month. That's how to bankrupt a Nation.
Eric (Florida)
@John Sullivan I agree. The body count and hospital admissions better start soaring PDQ to justify all this upheaval otherwise you're going to be having more dead and injured from cabin fever incidents than viral infections.
Susan (CA)
@Eric Measures taken to lower infection are only proven to have been effective after lower infection rates became the result! Body count and soaring hospital admissions are proof that measures weren't followed. Cabin fever is likely for those who can't get along anyway and can'ts see other ways to spend time peacefully. Knowing so many people are watching too much Walking Dead and hoarding guns and ammo scares me as much as the virus. Just be considerate of others and patient knowing things will change as time passes and all the numbers and feedback are reassessed and new plans arise.
lh (nyc)
Does this way of calculating make sense? Coronavirus is most lethal to elderly people, and people with underlying health conditions, thus many people who might have died of cancer or heart disease or other. Could we be counting the same deaths twice?
HSM (New Jersey)
A silver lining in all of this is the understanding forced upon us is that we must change our habits. As we do, it is possible that the environment begins to heal itself before our eyes. As an older person, I'm at the high end of risk for everything. But it gives me a great deal of happiness to think that the survivors will come out of this moment with a new understanding of our collective ability to change and live a life in conformity to nature. Beyond the shock of the moment, the future is looking brighter.
And B.J McDonald (Ventura, California)
@HSM thank you! I have been sick for exactly a month, unable to get a test for covid19. Yesterday was a beautiful day and I drove to the ocean. In an interior estuary and lagoon I saw five white lumps; it was resting pelicans! At least a hundred other birds, flapped wings in the water, dove for food, waded on long legs, foraging with long beaks. I rejoiced, the natural life on earth can perhaps survive, at 78, I will not for too much longer in any case. But for sure I will die sooner without friends and family around me.
Mark (NY)
Once this got into the human population, there was nothing anyone could really do to stop its inevitable spread. It's like trying to hold back a tsunami with an umbrella. It is going to continue to be a global disruption for years to come, until some kind of effective antiviral is developed and disseminated or until a vaccine is developed and disseminated. Unfortunately, by the time it is, society may well have broken down completely. We have the mightiest military force in the world. Why is it not being deployed to help handle this greatest threat to civilization since the development of nuclear weapons? We have fought proxy wars for generations. Now it's time to fight a real war right here at home. This is not going to end well for any of us.
Don't these numbers double-count many deaths, especially among older groups? I.e., if death by coronavirus is more likely among those already afflicted with things like heart disease (and general old age), weren't some of those deaths bound to happen anyway in the coming year?
Billypistachios (Montana)
@JR I didn't look, as you move the slider an increase in coronavirus deaths really should produce a decrease in other deaths, not 1 to 1 but something. Do they?
Richard (Oakland, CA)
Please combine with life expectancy estimates for each age group. I wonder how severely coronavirus will scale back how long the average American can expect to live. Will it bring us back to 1970, 1920, 1800, or the Dark Ages?
Peter Aretin (Boulder, Colorado)
I wonder if, once a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, will anti-vaxxers denounce it and refuse to be vaccinated? At this point many have become heavily invested in the notion that vaccines are bad and are to be resisted, binding them together in a kind of community or cult. This could have serious implications if a natural immunity is insufficient, and reinfection by coronavirus is possible, something not presently known.
MisterE (Texas)
@Peter Aretin Very likely so. We have seen the increase in measles cases, but at least we have a vaccine to protect those of us who get it.
Sarel Van Der Walt (ZA)
Minimizing transmission to ensure the health care system is not overrun will likely ensure fatality remains below 1%, as the successes in Singapore, Korea, Japan, etc show. However, if the health care system are overrun, fatality rate will increase to over 2%, at some points even as high as 4%, as the examples of Iran and Italy show. And this excludes higher fatalities from other diseases due to limited health care availability for these patients. Expanding health care supply and radically reducing demand for health care from infected persons are absolutely necessary to ensure fatalities remain as low as possible.
Frank (Sydney)
@Sarel Van Der Walt - 'even as high as 4%' I just saw figures showing I think worldwide total cases of 198,000 and total deaths about 8,000 - an average of 4% across the world
Sarel Van Der Walt (ZA)
@Frank, yes, relooking at the numbers indicating average worldwide fatality rate (as % of total infected) to be around 4%, with the fatality rates in Iran (6%) and Italy (8%) being significantly higher. However, nearly all experts agree that due to limited testing being done in most countries, the true number of infected are much, much higher than the official numbers indicate, thus the lower estimated fatality rate.
Karen (Ray)
One question I've never seen addressed: Will all of this social isolation and hand sanitizing also have positive impact on other diseases? Bring about fewer cases of seasonal flu or other infectious diseases?
GA (Europe)
It's not mentioned in this article, but there appears to be an increase risk in the presence of other conditions. That can complicate the simple calculations done here. People with "minor" heart or cancer would be at higher risk than they were before. The strain on the health system and the (lack of) insurance will just make things worse. In Italy for example the hospital capacity has been reached. Actions are needed, in the whole US and even between states.
MisterE (Texas)
There is plenty of speculation by people with limited or no expertise, and we would do well to ignore it. We should be very discriminating when accepting information. Predictions are based on different scenarios, and with the lack of testing in the U.S. they are largely guesswork. The only certainty at this point is that the less contact we have with each other, the slower the spread of the virus. This will ease the strain put on our health care system a bit and hopefully lower the number of fatalities. Perhaps a little perspective is in order. We are not having to shelter in place due to armed conflict. There are no tanks (foreign or domestic) in our streets, no bombers flying over head, and we need not dodge sniper fire. Much of the world has lived like this and in some places the people have known no other life. It is likely that in a few weeks our grocery stores will once again be well stocked with a myriad of choices. Please do your best to limit your social interaction. Minus a vaccine, it is our best chance to save lives. This is a major election year, and I think the incumbent political office holders know that they ignore our economic woes at their own peril. I sincerely hope that the needy get that check from Uncle Sam quickly.
Martino (SC)
My overall immune system is pretty good being a big part of my life has involved working with and around garbage so I have built up quite a bit of resistance to all kinds of stuff, but...I have some real problems to contend with. First, I'm 60 which by itself a big strike against me. Second and one I'm not proud of is I'm still a lifelong smoker and unlikely to quit any time soon. I know..I should so please, no lectures. I know what I've gotten myself into. Finally, I only have veterans status so the only real option I have to get medical care is at the VA which I don't particularly trust all that much. I figure if I do manage to not get the virus I might expect to live at least to my 70s, but if I do I know I'm toast. My kids will get my life insurance and hopefully spend it wisely. I do not in any way fear death in and of itself. The method often worries me, but who actually wants to die slowly and painfully? I have an "out" option if push comes to shove, but that would likely nullify my insurance for my kids so if i get the virus I'll likely ride it out at home, die and the coroner will come by, whisk me away and that will be that. In the meantime I plan to use my time like there is no tomorrow and enjoy my family to the best of my ability. I love them all and want nothing but the best for them.
Will (UK)
@Martino Good on you mate! I'm a lot older, though never smoked and picked my grandparents carefully (all 80/90s) Also not panicked at the grim reaper (except Mitch!) being careful but living as much as I can.
Marc Shulman (Brooklyn)
Notice that proper exercise and diet would dramatically reduce almost everything on this list.
Bob Podolsky (SC)
@Marc Shulman Yes, as Daniel Lieberman points out, mismatch diseases--resulting from differences in how we live and eat relative to the conditions under which we evolved--are the major source of health care spending, morbidity, and mortality.
D (Thailand)
@Marc Shulman 80% of healthcare spending is on preventable diseases... no wonder the USA has the highest medical costs and worst outcomes in the developed world.
Michael (Wisconsin)
So based on this, why wouldn’t we just ask people older than 60 to shelter in place? The economic cost of the containment attempt is enormous for something so disproportionately affecting older groups. Entire industries gutted, people jobless, savings gone, a school year lost.
Elaine Dittmer (Cary)
@Michael i'm 78 and severaly immune compromised. I have been sheltering in place since last week. Our senior community delivers our meals from the kitchen. The only person I see is my husband. If he gets the virus, so will I, but he only picks up medications. He does interact with people in our building, but so far no one is sick. And only medical personnel can enter our community now. I guess it will be until June or probably more like September until I may be able to go out. I've cancelled all appointments, even doctors are managing my care by email. So far, so good.
Steve (NYC)
@Michael: I agree with you. I am 66 and in good health. No lung issues. I live right near Columbia University. I went to the supermarket tonight. For the first time young people were looking at me with what I would call extremely polite fear. It makes more sense for me to make myself scarce than to crash the economy by throwing younger people out of work.
Cindy (California)
@Michael You should spend more time playing with the data on this simulator. For instance, if 48% of the population is infected (probably a low estimate if everyone younger than 60 is going about their business in a growing epidemic), and if the overall fatality rate is 1.9% (probably a very low estimate in the overwhelmed medical system that would necessarily result), then COVID-19 would still be the primary cause of death for everyone over the age of 10. Sure, older people are more likely to die from COVID-19 than younger people are, but they're also more likely to die from other diseases. In a scenario of 48% infection and 1.9% fatality rate, more teenagers will die of COVID-19 than of any other cause, more people in their 20s will die of COVID-19 than of any other cause, and so forth. And that's not even counting all of the other deaths that would result once the medical system became too overwhelmed to adequately treat accident victims or cancer patients or pregnant women or anyone else in need.
Turgid (Minneapolis)
Great article. Thank you, NYT. I am curious about the accuracy of testing for this virus, and whether we will learn later that Covid-19 was being lumped in with some other viruses? Or was actually more than one virus. There were all the problems with the CDC test which seemed odd. There has been at least 1 case in the media where someone tested negative in Seattle, then later was identified positive. Experts keep saying they don't know enough and need more data. I don't mean to minimize the seriousness of what we're facing, but perhaps what's being identified as Covid-19 might in fact be more than one virus.
Naïs (Canada)
@Turgid Hello, I have read extensively on covid-19 and the virus causing it, SARS-CoV-2, and the idea you are proposing doesn't seem to fit with anything I have read, or heard, from experts from various countries. Maybe the person you are referring to got infected between their two tests? Maybe lab error?
Theresa Wilson (Scotland)
@Turgid I believe the early problems were caused by negative controls that had been contaminated with virus. For a sample to show up as positive (with a contaminated negative control) it would need to have a higher load of virus than the negative control. So those with low levels of virus, although still positive, would not be detected. They would be detected on a second test if a. their viral load had increased or b. the negative control had been fixed.
GA (Europe)
@Turgid there is always a detection limit in all measurements. He was negative because he was at the beginning of the infection.
GBR (New England)
I wonder how many _additional_ deaths COVID19 will cause this year?.... For example, we’ve got many ill elderly folks who would die this year anyway ( be it from cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia, etc) .... but they will be felled by COVID first/instead.
John Huppenthal (Chandler, AZ)
@GBR 2.6 million people died in 2019. If our infection rate hits 10% with a death rate of 1%, that would be another 300,000 deaths. But, many of those 300,000 would have died anyway, Covid-19 will just be the factor that pushes them over the cliff a few months earlier. If the infection rate hits 30%, then death rates will climb towards 3% as the health care system is overwhelmed and victims can't get access to ventilators and proper medicine. 2.9 million will die. Most of these will be real victims. Covid-19 is almost certainly a seasonal disease, there are 198,000 infections north of the equator and only 1,100 infections south of the border. What that means is that the peak on this will be next February, a really intense peak. The Asian countries are all wearing masks as part of a successful strategy to bring this under control. Our CDC is taking the insane position that masks do not provide any protection.
Dave (home)
@John Huppenthal We don't know that about seasonality yet. Most countries south of the equator are underdeveloped with poor health infrastructure and inadequate reporting. How many have been tested in, say, Botswana, or Brazil? Some of the countries reporting heavy tolls are subtropical, like Italy and Iran. Further, if your premise is correct, then the southern hemisphere would be likely to be hit, just during their cold season.
Nic (Auckland, NZ)
@John Huppenthal I disagree with it being a seasonal disease. It has started to spread like wildfire in Australia - in summer.
Al (NC)
Does this methodology account for the load on staff and stuff that would be required to treat the dying and critical? In other words, it looks like you're assuming we would somehow still be able to do heart and cancer interventions at the same time
Todd (MN)
And what? is the average age of doctors vs nurses that are in those upper age groups. What percent are in that group that could be out of commission for months. And apply fatalities rates to them....curious...impact etc My wife is an RN and there's growing
TR88 (PA)
It’s a world pandemic, not a US pandemic. Why not make really clickworthy predictions and base the projections on 8 billion people instead of 300 million? For example, 30% of 8 billion is 2.4 billion. Slide your calculator around those numbers. I think we all know why it’s being done this way.
@TR88 There is a great discussion on why it is useful to discuss statistics on a country-by-country basis at the corona virus pate at the web site. In fact that site has a lot of other superb discussions, even a chart showing estimates of how many tests have been run in each country. I strong recommend spending some time perusing that site.
There for the grace of A.I. goes I (san diego)
If you look at these numbers from a PURELY Economic angle it could be argued that this virus could have a positive net effective on the overall HEALTH of the GDP....most of the activities/ businesses being Hit Hard by this are purely in the leisure entertainment and non essential sector....if this social distancing stays in place it will have a significant drop in the demand for Gas ....I saw today on the roads a reduced amount of traffic around 30-35 percent....which means Less Global Warming for all the Environmental extremist!
Fourteen14 (Boston)
@There for the grace of A.I. goes I Well, it's certainly been very good for the Big Pharma execs and their stock options.
PlainSpeak (San Diego)
@Fourteen14 If we do nothing or very little, which sounds like what you are proposing, then push both sliders all the way to the right. 70% infected and because the healthcare system will be overwhelmed the mortality rate will skyrocket as many will not get the attention they need. This model only goes to 3% morality. In populations where the healthcare is poor and/or gets overwhelmed we are seeing mortality rates of 5%.
Steve (NYC)
@There for the grace of A.I. goes I: Yeah. And if 90 percent of the population dies it will be much easier to find a parking space.
Bob (New Brunswick)
The way I am reading this is that all those other deaths, plus opiod overdoses, car accidents, firearm deaths are not as important as the COVID-19 deaths. We never shut the American economy down for any of those as we are in the process of doing, most likely causing a 2nd Great Depression. I am hoping I am wrong, but hard not to think the long term impacts of a shudown of the American economy won't be worse than the COVID impact.
Linda L (Washington Dc)
@Bob Keep in mind that the other causes of death are not contagious. They can't be stopped the way that a contagious disease can.
Ronald B. Duke (Oakbrook Terrace, Il.)
@Bob; This is the first internet fueled panic in history. People will eventually learn to discount (put in perspective) what the internet sets before them, but they haven't yet. The news media, thinking to do good by presenting as much information as they can, are actually making things worse.
Naïs (Canada)
@Ronald B. Duke (Hello, I am sorry to go against your point of view, but I had to say this. I don't mean to be unpleasant, life is stressful enough as it is...) Maybe cynicism is making things worse by discrediting the seriousness of this pandemic, (which is a word in its own right, not a neologism aimed at augmenting traffic). A projected infection rate of 60% worldwide (Merkel reported up to 70%) multiplied by a lethality rate of 3.4% as per the WHO, is this just trivial? What about the mortality rate increase due to a shortage of access to medical resources? What about long term effects on organs? What about orphans? What about the loss of knowledgeable elders in their communities (including scientists, but not exclusively)? Over 300 dead in Italy within one day! I bet Italians don't need the Internet right now to start panicking. They just need a plain old landline phone, hearing of an acquaintance in ICU or at the morgue. They cannot even bury their dead. What "perspective" is there to take? Maybe one which goes the other way around, unfortunately..
artikhan (Florida)
I think this threat should be taken incredibly seriously by the public, at-risk individuals, and potential carriers (everyone) but- to add some perspective- there's much greater odds of having a vaccine for the COVID-19 strain in a couple of years than for cancer, heart disease, and dementia- so the long-term risk to the general population, or people aging and/or deteriorating into high-risk groups could be much lower over time for this particular viral risk. Also, of course, the potential evolution of the virus and/or eventual fatality risks could be deemed much less likely with longer-term analysis of the data. That being said, for current higher-risk populations, national and international medical systems, and the economies of the world, COVID-19 poses a grave, perhaps cascading set of risks. Also, (and this may be to many a morbid perspective, but I think it's an adaptive and important one) this could be a 'dress rehearsal' for future, and perhaps even much more lethal regional and global viral epidemics and pandemics (which are to be expected). Hopefully both societies and individuals learn more rather than less from what's happening now, and can respond in a more agile manner going forward.
artikhan (Florida)
@artikhan Sorry, long day, meant to say, "the potential evolution of the virus could be towards less-lethal strains, and in the longer run, data analysis may reveal a fatality rate at the lower end of the current spectrum of estimates. Drier language aside, many people would do much better to put aside their egos and tendency toward denial and understand that being in a somewhat lower-risk group doesn't eliminate risk to oneself or one's loved ones- statistics can't eliminate existential uncertainty!
Sam (New York)
What is the rationale behind a 30% assumed infection rate? That baseline is very misleading, especially given Wuhan's infection rate is <1% (100,000 in a city of 11.08 million). The current US infection rate is .0018%. To get to a 1% infection rate (3.3 million cases), the number of current cases would need to increase by 660X. Do we truly think that the US would see 3.3M cases when Wuhan, the epicenter, only saw 100,000)?
pm (nyc)
@Sam, currently, diagnosed cases are increasing about 20-30% a day in the US. At 30 days of that growth rate, you would see the number of cases increase by a factor of 800. (1.25^31). This does not account for the long incubation time, that people are infectious before they are symptomatic. We may have many more.
Steven Willis (Gainesville, Florida)
@pm Initially, China numbers were up 60% per day. Slowed to 30, then 20, and so on. Not likely we continue at 30%/day. Also, we are now testing many; thus, the rapid increase reflects testing as much as spread.
Stable Genius (Chicago, IL)
@Steven Willis China also had a historic shut down when there cases were only 500. They plateued at 80 thousands cases. We didn't shut down and all of what we're doing is a fraction of what China did. We won't will not reach a plateue point for a long long time.
katweetie (Maine)
None of those other diseases will have the collateral damage of coronavirus however. They will not make so many people lose business, homes, and health insurance (if they had it) because of the economic disruption. Unfortunately, in trying to keep the glass of water from spilling on the table, we are pulling the tablecloth out and upsetting everything at once! At this point there is no good solution, but rigorous testing and early action could have changed that.
Back in the Day... (Asheville, NC)
Think of how many won't die, but will suffer its ravages. Doctors in Belgium are shocked at the damage to young adults' lungs, that is permanent. Think of the loss of income, the stress on family, the strain on infrastructure, the loneliness, and the anger. This is not just about how many will die, it's about how we all will be impacted. Nothing will remain as it was.
John Huppenthal (Chandler, AZ)
@Back in the Day... As a 7th grader, I spent 3 weeks in the hospital recovering from pneumonia, as a sophmore in high school, I was laid low for 3 weeks for valley fever. I went on to an outstanding athletic career and ran marathons in great times. When a doc looked at my lung scans in my 40s, he was shocked by what he saw. Lot of extra capacity in the human body.
BigDaddy (Here)
@John Huppenthal There's the scientifically significant sample size of 1.
Marie (Grand Rapids)
@BigDaddy Indeed. That some people recovered from polio does not make the vaccine irrelevant.
dave (beverly shores in)
At this point these infection and death estimates are nothing but speculation. Seems like a bit fear mongering going on here.
acueil (CT)
@dave disagree 100%. All science is "speculation", until it's proven. If that scares you, I'd say that's your problem, not science's. But rest assured: we'll have more data shortly. It won't be good data, I can almost guarantee that, given our slow response. Might actually make you miss the "speculative" models showing 30% infection rates.
Naïs (Canada)
@dave An expert "speculating" is not the equivalent of speculation from an average dude. The former has a tighter grasp onto what they are trying to narrow down, while the later is just guessing.
DW99 (East Coast)
@dave : Spoken like a true red-stater. Just wait and see how things are 14 days from now in the areas where Fox viewers continue to go about biz as usual because they think this is no big deal.
AC (Boston)
Deaths from COVID-19 (global) -- 6,668 Confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- 173,316 Deaths from 2019-2020 seasonal flu (U.S.) -- 22,000 Confirmed cases of 2019-2020 seasonal flu (U.S.) -- 222,552 Death rate for seasonal flu is more than 2X COVID-19
Jarrett (Oklahoma)
@AC Um no.... 16,000 have died from the flu, 280,000 have been hospitalized alone, and 20-25 million have had it. That is from September to present. The Covid numbers? That is from 2 months with countries trying to lock it down, and more than a third of the death rate at .2% of the infection rate. You are misunderstanding the CDC report. They only get a random amount of samples to determine percentage rate and changes so they can extrapolate out the totals, and percentage changes. For example they don't say X number got hospitalized, they say 61.6 per 100k people were hospitilized with flu. Doing quick math with a pop of 300mil and you get 180k. Similarly they don't say 'There has been X number of deaths' they take the number reported and extrapolate it out. 7.1% of deaths have been due to flu so you can extrapolated that to 16,000 (though it is around 22k now apparently). But they never give solid numbers they give percentages and per 100k because they are estimates.
LauraF (Great White North)
@AC Well, if you don't do any testing, you cannot possibly know how many cases there really are, incubating away and spreading germs. The US is far, far behind in testing because Trump and his minions refused to acknowledge the threat this disease posed until this week.
MikeLT (Wilton Manors, FL)
@AC Think of it this way: the seasonal flu virus is already baked into our society... it's already literally everywhere when it ramps up in season. This COVID-19 is brand new, and is already in all corners of the globe and U.S.
Don (Long Island, NY)
There needs to be some discussion of the pain of the death itself. Not all ways of dying are equal. Our motivations shouldn't just be pure numbers as if one death is the same as any other, there are varying levels of suffering in these deaths. I don't want people I care about to die, but I especially don't want them to die painfully.
education observer (New York, NY)
@Don I dunno. Dying of Alzheimer's, cancer or heart disease (I've nursed parents through this gruesome trifecta) is not going gently into that good night, I'm afraid. If I'm 85+, I'd rather go quick.
Detalumis (Canada)
It's only because your country is too squeamish. In mine I can choose medical aid in dying for the early stages of Alzheimer's as well as cancer. The problem is people don't want to know they have Alzheimer's so resist testing and slide into incompetency. I have more peace of mind about a good death then Americans do.
Kevin Nelson (California)
@Don So what do you suggest if it is painful?
Brian (California)
These are sobering numbers. What the doubters and pollyannas seem to forget is that though this virus may only kill an equivalent amount of people as some of the other major causes of death in our country, it will be an injection of victims into our healthcare system we can not accommodate. The extreme measures being taken now are so when the the hospitals start receiving huge influxes of Covid-19 related patients, they can still have some chance to ALSO service everyone else who is victim to the day to day maladies we already face. Cancer, sicknesses, car accidents, will all now have to be treated IN ADDITION to possibly thousands of intensive care patients from this pandemic. I don't see why this is so hard for people to understand. Go to any emergency room on a weekend night and it will be full. Now imagine that with double or triple piled on top from respiratory emergencies from this disease. Almost every healthcare professional I know is terrified of this possibility, and they are usually a understandably cynical bunch.
Todd (MN)
@Brian And what? is the average age of doc to ors vs nurses that are in those upper age groups. What percent are in that group that could be out of commission for months. And apply fatalities rates to them....curious My wife is an RN and there's growing concern here.
Billypistachios (Montana)
@Brian You could go a long way towards reducing other medical emergencies by putting some temporary restrictions on alcohol sales which, in effect, is being done by closing bars.
John Huppenthal (Chandler, AZ)
@Todd In going to my doctor, the doors weren't propped open, had to push on a push bar with my butt. Needed to push on a touch screen with my index finger to log in. They had surgical masks available for patients but none of staff were wearing them. Without that modeling, none of the patients were wearing them either. When I put the mask on, I got weird looks. Many of these staff are going to get sick and during the asymptomatic phase, they will be transmitting the virus to others. Our experience in the next couple of weeks is going to be a cultural shock. Our current habits leave us wide open to exponential growth of this disease.
D Guest (Virginia)
We keep including ongoing cases in mortality rates. We should only use resolved cases. These provide an upper limit assuming many mild cases go unreported. We can't rely on estimates from China. Resolved cases in S. Korea point to a 6% mortality rate there not including mild unreported cases.
Elizabeth M (Atlanta GA)
@D Guest 0.6%, not 6%. South Korea has testing, testing, testing. Which we have refused to do. They catch the mild cases, via testing, and isolate. Which, again, is something the U.S is not prepared to do. We are going to look more like Italy than South Korea, and in Italy, the rate IS 6-7%.
Marc Luck (Chicago)
@D Guest Because they are not actually trying to calculate mortality. They’re calculating the ongoing (preliminary) case-fatality rate... which is the useful epidemiologic measure at this point. Mortality is actually a different concept (cases divided by number at risk over a given period). It’s far too early to have a final case-fatality estimate, which seems to be what you are actually interested in. Patients that recover tend to be sick for longer than patients that die, and that difference in time course introduces bias into an estimate if you only select resolved cases while the epidemic is ongoing. Similarly, early cases tend to be more severe, which also biases the estimate. From the numbers you’re citing, all we can hypothesize is that the final case-fatality will be lower than 5% and (maybe) higher than 0.9% (although potentially not if they are missing enough cases despite the breadth of their testing).
TR88 (PA)
@Elizabeth M S. Korea has tested 250,000 out of its 50 million citizens. That’s 49. 75 million walking around who haven’t been tested, 80% of whom may be carrying the virus with or without symptoms.m
Martijn (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
While trying to reproduce this data for the Netherlands we encountered a substantial difference in the allocation over deaths over various age groups. We assumed the death rates used from the article come from the paper by the Chinese CCDC released on Feb. 17 ( We furthermore assumed that infections spread uniformly over the population. This contrast with your assumptions: "The tables also assume that coronavirus cases will be distributed in the same proportions as have been observed so far in the United States according to data collected by The Times." We believe this assumption is biased towards the age group that shows the most symptoms (70+) and strongly underestimates the prevalence of the virus under the lower age brackets who do not display symptoms. If you assume an infection rate of 50% and fatality rate of (just) 0.5%, Coronavirus will matches the fatality rate of cancer for all age groups > 40, and will be the major cause of death for all age groups < 40.
Pat (Germany)
@Martijn can you give more details?
Martijn (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
@Pat it's still work in progress, and it is not my intent to share this widely. But I though to give NY Times a head-up as the information they are currently sharing might be underestimating the risk of the lower age group with up to a factor 10. If you leave me an email address I would be happy to exchange more details with you.
MadBusinessMan (Minnesota)
When the history of this pandemic is written, it will focus on some things we already know: *Trump fired the pandemic chief and staff (part of Homeland Security in 2018. *Trump put a hiring freeze on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and over 800 positions are vacant - the best and brightest scientists and doctors weren't there to help us in the crisis now. *The first cases in China were reported in January and set off alarm bells in the scientific community - Trump did nothing lest he lose the re-election due to a faltering stock market. *Due to a lack of guidence and a firm comand structure, various Federal agencies dithered and fought over producing a good test for the virus - and refused to use excellent ones developed by other countries. When their model was distributed, it didn't work, delaying further the vital information of how many people and where had the virus. We are still in the midst of a shortage of testing machines. * Trump has - in various press conferences and tweets, lied about how bad the virus would be and how long (muzzling our scientists who could have told the truth * Trump was - and is - slow to respond to the crisis. What we are doing now should have been done weeks ago. Time is critical in a pandemic, and he blew it. The list goes on, but history will show our president was ill-equipped to handle any crisis, including this one. It's a matter of life and death, and many people will die as a result of his mismanagement.
AC (Boston)
@MadBusinessMan Your first two bullets are false.
Lara (USA)
@MadBusinessMan Trump was also the FIRST one to shut out China ... where the Media blasted him for racism. Trump was the first to shut out Trans Atlantic Flights to Europe ... Europe followed suit a week later. And the Union is closing borders everywhere. Trump is NOT a dictator. He did NOT demand everyone be quarantined, schools, shut down, etc. So, the media blasts him for NOT being a dictator. He has requested everyone quarantine themselves and refrain from groups of greater than 10 people. For some reason, Dems are voting in primaries ! ... These should ALL have been postponed ... and it was in the power of the States to do so (some did). But Trump is NOT a dictator. Be Safe. Quarantine yourself.
The Real Question (Austin, TX)
@Lara Trump did a few things right. Credit where credit is due. Trump also failed to do an enormous number of other things when it would have made a difference, and that got us to where we are today. And today doesn't feel too bad. But just wait until April. The damage is already done. We are just waiting for the effects to show up.
Susan (Florida)
Note that the statistics for the other listed causes occur every year. My understanding is that the coronavirus is expected to be brought under control through vaccinations, treatments and immunity within potentially a 12-18 month period. So looking over, say, a 5 year period, heart disease and cancer likely will kill far more people. Not that every life isn’t precious, but the interesting thing is that people seem to accept and accommodate the ongoing deaths from cancer, heart disease and other causes but are willing to shut down the country to prevent deaths from the coronavirus. Even for the also contagious seasonal flu, the annual deaths are surprisingly high and add up over the years. Yet, I’ve read that at least half the people in the country do not even bother to get vaccinated (which in a good year is only maybe 60% effective anyway). The interesting comparison to me isn’t the death rates from the various causes but the level of panic the coronavirus has engendered compared to the others.
DW99 (East Coast)
@Susan 1. A significant percentage of heart disease is lifestyle-related and therefore preventable. Not so with covid19. 2. Heart disease and cancer are typically treated over the course of many years, giving patients time to change their habits and sometimes slow the course. Not so with covid19. 3. Heart disease and cancer aren't contagious. Not so with covid19. 4. The percentage of the population that suffers from heart disease and cancer remains constant enough from year to year such that a sufficient no. of healthcare providers are available to treat all (insured) patients. Not so with covid19. 5. This new coronavirus seems to be far more contagious than the common flus that circulate annually. And bc no one has any immunity to this new coronavirus, it has the potential to infect every American -- literally every American. That would be catastrophic -- not only would 3 million or more die from covid19, millions more would die bc hospitals would be unavailable for anything else, fire and police departments would be understaffed due to deaths in their ranks, drug-treatment centers would be understaffed, etc. A knock-on effect. Any of that help you understand why concern about this new virus is off the charts?
Viktor Adamov (CA)
@Susan You really need to read more about comparing Covid 19 to all known diseases
Naïs (Canada)
@Susan Best case scenario for a vaccine is 18 mo (so maybe 15 now?). Could take 3 years though.
Chip (Narnia)
Once again, a piece of agitprop. Anything to kill the economy and oust a president they don't like.
Wendy Wright (La Mesa, CA)
@Chip Even Trump is finally realizing how serious covid-19 is.
Gary (Virginia)
@Chip You must have missed Trump's press conference today. Looks like he joined the conspiracy too :)
Windy (Arizona)
@Chip we have State autonomy and each state is on it's own. There is no telling what the future holds in this without a central command. I do wonder how each state, and their economies, will be able to meet the need for medical facilities and equipment that will. e needed as more people get severely ill. At present, our biggest need is to do more testing.
Henry (Woodstock, NY)
Five important factors seem to be left out of this article. The first is reinfection rate. Apparently the virus can almost immediately reinfect a survivor and the fatality rate of the reinfection is much higher than the initial fatality rate. The second factor left out is the ability of the virus to mutate. Making a prognosis about this is both necessary and very difficult. The third factor left out is the economic crisis created by the epidemic. If it were to approach that of the Great Depression, it would affect the fatality numbers of many other diseases due to lack of medical care as well as basic life requirements such as food and shelter. Fourth, no one knows how long it will take to get past this virus in the U.S. It may well be years. If that is so, we may well be experiencing the effects of a second virus before this one is over and with little capacity to deal with it. And finally, all of this will divert us from dealing effectively with our changing climate. A potentially existential threat to humans and many other life forms.
JustJeff (Maryland)
@Henry That's an argument for why widescale testing is both necessary and should be mandatory. Without data, nothing can be predicted. We can't even determine how widespread the disease is at the moment let alone figure out how best to combat it. We don't know the rate of reinfection, full periods of incubation, etc. We have broad statistics (very broad, the standard deviations yield the true crisis - lack of response) which this article reflects, but nothing more.
Jay Becks (Statesboro, GA)
@Henry Your points are all well made. I just want to say that the reinfection issue is not settled. The LA Times has this: "Scientists in and outside China agree that reinfection is a highly unlikely explanation for the patients who retest positive." Today's Guardian: "Definitive answer not yet known, but experts say reinfection seems unlikely."
Viktor Adamov (CA)
@Henry Excellent points. I'd like to add that while both Covid-19 and CC are "grey rhino's" as opposed to "black swans" and that both can be averted via decisive adaptation and mitigation measures, the urgency of Covid-19 will naturally takes precedence over CC's.
Mike (Denver)
Poor article. Basic fear mongering. These numbers will NEVER happen! Look @ China. If you use this article's assumptions that 30% of people get infected, in China that would amount to 900,000,000. If you don't like this number, let's say 20% or 600,000,000. If mortality is 1% then we should see 6,000,000 deaths in China. So far there have been ~ 3200 deaths. How about Italy? Italy has a population as of 2018 of 60,000,000+. At this time there have been 2158 deaths - definitely higher rate than CHina but still represents 0.0036% of the population; they have reported 27,980 cases or 0.047% of the population. If you believe more people have been infected - say by 100-fold - that still amounts to 4.7%. Do you really believe that only 1% of those infected in Italy have been identified? (27.980/2,798,000? Yeah - don't think so. Dr Lawler's determination, if using 1% mortality rate, would be that ~ 27,000,000 people in the US will get infected, which is 8200 times the documented rate as of this AM.
John (Denver)
@Mike The population of China is 1.3 billion. Your numbers are way off. Regardless, China's infection and death numbers are incredibly inaccurate (to put it nicely). They most likely has 10x the number of infected and dead. Do some digging and it's not hard to find. Italy is also in the beginning stages of this, and the US has barely started. They've based these numbers on models from available information, and have specifically said they can be mitigated...rather than rail against predictions, find out why they made those predictions. They are experts for a reason, even if not always right.
Chris Washkowiak (Peru,il)
It's impossible to tell if we over reaccted. It is possible to tell if we didn't react swiftly enough! To me the analogy is if you believe in God and you do your best to make it to heaven. You are in a win-win situation, you make it to heaven, but you're dead so you can't tell anyone. If there's no heaven your dead and can't tell anyone.
Mike (Denver)
@John No true. deaths are easily identified - infecteed population isnt
kevinhugh (Seattle, Wa.)
Having no reliable data on how many are infected completely changes the context. If 10,000 Americans are already carrying the virus the current fatality rate would be .70. But if that number is 100,000 infected, and without massive testing there is no way to know, then the current death rate would be .07, or below what is typical for influenza A or B, the yearly seasonal flu.
RN (Ann Arbor, MI)
@kevinhugh your argument assumes that those infected with the virus and not showing symptoms will never show symptoms and never die from the virus. Then, yes, 10,000 infected Americans with 70 dead would have a fatality rate of 0.7. The problem now is that we do not know what is going to happen with those people who are currently infected and asymptomatic. If those who are asymptomatic now develop symptoms the rate goes back up. The real point is that none of the contorted arguments people are trying to make to compare this to the flu will decrease the number of people who die from it. If anything these arguments will increase deaths as people become careless, thinking this is just a hoax.
Walt (Chicago)
@RN At this point in the US we are only testing those who are symptomatic. Plus, apparently, some athletes. With a supposed 10,000 infected (from your example) and 70 dead you get 0.7 % but we don't know how the 10,000 cases will resolve. There may well be 300 or 800 or 1300 additional deaths.
Jeff (Colleyville, TX)
@RN 10,000 infected and 70 deaths is actually a rate of 0.007
Hrishikesh Vinod (New York)
A PhD student of mine, who understands Econometrics tools I teach in my post-graduate classes rather well, has looked at publicly available covid-19 data as of March 13. He found that the average death rate among those older than 65 is whopping 66%. Even after allowing for data biases and other reporting problems, this death rate is alarming and far exceeds the CDC worst case scenario assumptions. Let us hope a treatment arrives soon.
Sgg (West Coast, Best Coast)
@Hrishikesh Vinod is this from the USA cases only? Could be skewed because of the LifeCare Center in Kirkland WA where many patients were terminally ill.
William H (Maryland)
@Hrishikesh Vinod Your comment is almost entirely lacking in details critical to any attempt at interpreting the graduate student’s conclusion. Taken at face value, we can only wonder how this remarkable finding has escaped CDC’s epidemiologists.
DeltaZero (United States)
@Hrishikesh Vinod That number doesn't pass the smell test. Do you mind asking him to check his calculation?
James B. Davis (Beverly Hills, CA)
The current death rate in the United States is 1.9%, far behind the 7.7% rate in Italy. The case rate per 1M people in the United States is 14.3/M, among the lowest in developed countries. Tiny Switzerland by contrast has a case rate of 308.7/M. I have a lot of problems with words and phrases like could be, might be, probably, worst case, experts say, predict, etc. While we can follow statistical trends and use them for predictions, they are only predictions and frequently they are made by people with no medical experience and political agendas. We are shutting down our entire country and creating tremendous economic harm for the present and the future, for a disease that so far has only 4,748 cases and 93 deaths in the United States. “Experts” agree that children are generally not at risk but we have closed most of our schools, creating tremendous child care problems for people who need to work, instead of focusing most of our efforts on the most vulnerable senior population. Of course it is important that we get control of this and get ahead of it as soon as possible. But creating havoc by pushing doomsday prophecies based on estimates and assumptions of so-called experts (who are frequently proved wrong) is not helpful. Most people are intelligent enough to filter the “news” and determine if there is more or less truth in what they are hearing. The rest hoard toilet paper.
AG (Chicago)
@James B. Davis The comparisons you're making are built on the underlying presumption that we've all been infected at the exact same time, which isn't the case. For a better understanding, start with a baseline of 100 infected and then look at the rate of infection from that point forward and it becomes clear that we are on par with Italy, Iran and South Korea.
Paul Pavlis (Highlands, NC)
@James B. Davis I am guessing the Swiss have a higher rate of testing, though I don't know. I do know that the US currently has one of the lowest rates of testing in the developed world. Less testing = lower case rate but not necessarily good news.
DW99 (East Coast)
@James B. Davis : Every reputable expert is saying that we're 10 days behind Italy with regard to the curve showing the rate of infection. THAT'S why it's crucial to shut down everything now -- so that we don't continue to follow Italy's path. It baffles me that people are selectively willing to discount experts when they dislike or don't want to hear what the experts are saying. You're happy to put your faith in experts with regard to the science behind the car you drive, the electricity that every part of your life relies on, the technology behind your phone and other devices -- but somehow the same scientific methods are suspect with regard to this pandemic? And your ludicrous "deaths so far" -- this pandemic is going to come in additional waves for 12-18 months, until a vaccine has been created and widely distributed. It is highly contagious and transmitted by people who are asymptomatic. Stop cherry-picking bits and pieces so you can naysay bc you're worried about your investments.
DrJeff (NJ)
These numbers should be taken with a large grain of salt since the CDC has very little credibility left and is rotten to the core due to unbridled corruption. I used to do statistical work for them. I know.
Linda L (Washington Dc)
@DrJeff Right -- And I believe anonymous comments over NYT articles. /s
J Nice (Washington, D.C.)
Are the gun numbers double counted with suicides and accidental gun deaths? FBI statistics show about 6000 gun CRIMINAL HOMICIDES (murders) every year but these statistics show 39000 "gun deaths." Does that include suicide and accidental deaths and justifiable homicides? If so, very misleading statistic. Justifiable homicides should be attributed to criminal activity (once it is ruled justifiable) and not guns.
Dave (USA)
From this article: "In Hubei, China, where the disease began, far less than 20 percent of the population has been infected." In fact, based on the most recent numbers this morning it is 1/10th of 1 percent infection rate in Hubei. Total infections 67,799, population of Hubei 58.5 million.
Allison (Florida)
This is an absolute lie. China has over one billion people and only 5,000 deaths. The U.S. will end under 2,000 deaths. The whole situation is overblown.
Tom Miller (Calabasas)
@Allison I hope you are right but I don't trust numbers coming out of China.
John Huppenthal (Chandler, AZ)
@Allison China masked up 100%, by producing 200 million masks per day. The U.S, with double China's economic strength, is producing less than one million masks per day. Media quoted one young woman returning to China because England is "not taking the virus seriously". Her evidence? "People are not wearing masks". CDC continues the insanity of saying that masks do not provide protection. Every major Asian country is bringing their crisis under control by having everyone wear masks. We need twenty to fifty million masks per day. I live in Arizona with its 20 infections. One victim posted a video describing his experience. He went to get checked wearing an N95 mask after finding out that he had been in close personal contact with another victim. He described the reaction of the health car providers looking at his mask as "though they were seeing a psychopath". None of the healthcare providers who interacted with him were adequately protected. His wearing a mask protected them. Our healthcare system will likely soon become a superspreader institution like those of China. The healthcare providers failed to prescribe anti-virals necessary to fight the virus. As he described symptoms in the three week infection, obviously he does not realize how close to the edge he remains. In a flu report, CDC reports 43% of flu fatalities were not prescribed the anti-virals necessary to fight the flu. Evidently, neither are Covid-19 victims.
cosmeticmd1 (Los Angeles)
@John Huppenthal There is no antiviral drugs for covid 19.
Greg Wells (Kentucky)
Why the assumption that the U.S. outcome is going to be so much worse than China's ?
TR88 (PA)
I’m skeptical of an article that starts with “its impossible to tell” and then writes 5000 words replete with adjustable graphs and what experts think telling us what might happen. Wuhan province has 60 million people densely packed into it, has magnitudes worse air pollution, 4 times the smoking rate and an inferior health care system. We had the advantage of knowing what we were looking for where China had to identify it after it had already been multiplying in the population. The virus seemed to infect thousands of Chines people and then plateau. Why do we assume that it won’t do the same here at far lower levels? Why would we experience worse outcomes here?
David Ropeik (Concord, Massachusetts)
There is a critical missing data point. The deaths from other causes are per year. The deaths from COVID-19 are for the course of the epidemic, which is not a 12 month period. Sadly, the good effort of this article stumbles badly by failing to compare things in a similar time frame. (Unless the COVID figures are indeed annual, which is unlikely, and which the article does not report.)
John Eley (Harrisonburg VA)
What is the relationship between economic prosperity at a level that we were experiencing a month ago and death rates from the various diseases to which the death rates of COVID 19 are compared? If we experience a prolonged recession or even a depression from this crisis because we have attached such importance to avoiding deaths from the disease that we have done damage to the economy which did not cause the disease, do we run the risk of higher rates of death from other causes? Are we running the risk of saving lives now through actions that cripple the economy only to find out that over the course of the next five years we will have more deaths than we would have had if we had not wrecked the economy in order to save lives now? Is it possible to take a time frame like this into account in an election year? These questions trouble me and I hope others as well.
TR88 (PA)
@John Eley Particularly if these estimates are far inflated.
DW99 (East Coast)
@John Eley : I suggest that you read abut the 1918-19 pandemic -- 500 mil infected in a world of 1.8bil to 1.9bil. That's 27%. Do you want a repeat of that, with its attendant problems? Of those infected, 50mil to 100mil died. Do you want a repeat of that? You might also read about the infection and death rates in St. Louis (where local govt enforced shutdowns and isolation), which were far lower than those in Philadelphia (where local govt didn't). Perhaps start with this:
Cmo (Colorado)
These numbers should be aggregated to account for the varying death rates in different populations. A person fro Age 10-19 Does not Have a .5 mortality rate. They have a .2. People in their 80’s have a nearly 15 percent mortality rate. This is the scrabble when you should be playing Chess.
Hugh Kinsel (Georgia)
It is not really a valid comparison to compare corona virus deaths to other diseases since it appears that the majority of people dying after contracting the corona virus are people that in all likelihood would eventually die from the other disease. In other words, the mortality rate of the people who contracted the corona virus and the mortality rate of people with other diseases are NOT mutually exclusive.
Robert (Wisconsin)
@Hugh Kinsel - you're not properly differentiating what is the proximate cause of death. Of course death rates will be higher with comorbid conditions. Yes, statistically, folks with HTN will die faster than those without. But HTN won't do you in in three weeks whereas COVID easily could.
Eric (Minnesota)
@Robert - I think @Hugh Kinsel is just making the point that some people who would have died in the same period of these comorbid conditions will die and coronavirus will be assigned as the proximate cause of death instead. Total number of deaths will not necessarily be the sum total of COVID-19 + the sum of all deaths that would have occurred if COVID-19 did not exist, which the tool suggests is true.
Windy (Arizona)
@Hugh Kinsel it is the damage to the lungs from Covid 19 that us the cause of death.
casey mohe (montana)
What is not accounted for in these projections is how many deaths COVID19 is substituting as a cause of death in place of another. Persons with congestive heart failure, advanced cancer and similar life ending diseases who contract COVID19 are being counted as a fatality in the virus statistics. Unfortunately, they would have died anyway and counted in the statistics of the other causes. What we need is statistics showing the death rate of COVID19 in people without serious underlying health conditions. That would be the true death rate.
Tom Rowe (Stevens Point WI)
@casey mohe Its a good point to make, but don't forget those people with underlying problems are not necessarily going to die soon from the problems. That is, they might have coronary artery disease, but its currently under control. But add the Covid-19 virus and they succumb. Now you tell me - should we attribute the death to the virus or the underlying condition?
Mr Kiplagat (Kenya)
@casey mohe "What we need is statistics showing the death rate of COVID19 in people without serious underlying health conditions ?" <- The Million Dollar Question
Jonathan Reed (Las Vegas)
@Tom Rowe It would be interesting to have an estimate of many years of life each victim of cover-19 death lost. For example, if a person of 80 in good health died of Covid-19 we could say that person lost at least (if not more because of their good health) the full number of years of their life expectancy. If a person of 80 with metastatic cancer died of Covid-19 we would have a reduced number of years of life lost. Unfortunately, I don't think we have statistics on life expectancy at different ages with different medical situations.
pnw (pnw)
20% infection rate seems about right based on the Diamond Princess data. They tested almost everyone on the ship so have a good estimate for those conditions at least.
Constance Underfoot (Seymour, CT)
@pnw A 20% infection rate among people who were isolated on a boat is not the same societal metric as as a town where people go shopping, mail and packages are delivered, people are outside, is it passed along by mosquitoes, etc.
JustJeff (Maryland)
@pnw Recall that in an average population you will connect with an average of 100-150 people, and they with 100-150 people (some of whom will eventually connect back to you), etc. The number of combinatory connections on a ship are significantly lower than in a general population.
pnw (pnw)
@Constance Underfoot It cannot be transmitted by mosquitoes or other insects.
Trudy Self (Lake Arrowhead, CA)
Also left out are the number of people in each age cohort. Boomers, for example,have higher #s than certain other age cohorts.
Stan Himes (Japan)
Scientists should not be estimating deaths in the US for this virus. It is too soon for estimations. The virus at the time I am writing this is 86 in the USA! I think the warnings should be for people at severe risk. Closing gyms restaurants and sporting events for a virus which has killed a lot less people than hand guns during the same time period is idiotic. Reaction to handgun death is no real problem but a virus that kills people at the end of their life is, stay at home with your stash of toilet paper.
Flyingoffthehandle (World Headquarters)
@Stan Himes this is agenda driven not a serious work product as most of us know the death total will not even reach 1000 in the US EOS
MadBusinessMan (Minnesota)
@Flyingoffthehandle Your comment is not based upon any scientific facts and is, at best, very wishful thinking. Many thousands will die, and history will not be kind to the Trump administration for their blunders and mistakes. If you don't believe in science - which he and they do not - you cannot possible cope with this epidemic crisis.
Windy (Arizona)
@Flyingoffthehandle we do not know that the death rate will not even reach 1000 in the United States. Factor in all variables, I do expect the death rate in the United States to be much higher .
100% Fatality Rate for everybody at some point from something.
Michael Browder (Chamonix, France)
The authors would be very naive to think that: "It’s possible fewer people will die here, either because conditions are substantially different in the United States, or because better treatments are developed, or because efforts to slow the spread help protect the people who are most vulnerable to severe disease." U.S. is already hopelessly behind. It has not learned from other countries experiences at all.
tew (Los Angeles)
To put the coronavirus deaths in context the table should include "All Other Causes". Then a sub-total of all other deaths could be compared with coronavirus estimated deaths. Also, there is a time period mismatch between the data. Dr. Lawler's estimate (which presumably drives the interactive sliders' output) estimates "deaths over the course of the illness known as Covid-19", per the article. We need to know how long his model assumes Covid-19 will be active and fatal (i.e. until widespread vaccine). The other death rates in the table are annual.
tew (Los Angeles)
@tew On my first read I missed the disclaimer "These comparisons assume that the entire coronavirus pandemic runs its course in one year, though it could well take longer." (I'd add a slider for that!)
Justin Smith (Milwaukee)
Someone clarify: When the slide rule is adjusted to, say, 1% overall fatality rates, and the age groups are disaggregated, does the disaggregation then apply different rules (adjust up or down the case fatality rate) to different age groups? Or does it just apply the 1% across all age groups?
Matthew Cush (Paris, France)
The actual number of cases is being vastly underreported, and that is skewing the apparent mortality rate. We need to ramp up testing, so that, among other things, the apparent mortality rate will drop closer to its likely actual 1% level. That would still be high (10 times higher than seasonal flu), but low enough for everyday life to get back to something approaching normal.
tew (Los Angeles)
@Matthew Cush The epidemiologists who are estimating mortality rates are quite aware of that. They include their estimate of unreported cases in their analysis.
JustJeff (Maryland)
@tew Yes, and this is why their estimate is between 0.7% and 3.4% That's a pretty broad spread.
Naïs (Canada)
@Matthew Cush Some experts also report that the "tip of the iceberg" effect is actually not that potent at reducing the mortality rate - as per their on-going observations.
BWF (Great Falls VA)
After reading this excellent article I am firmly resolved to stop growing older. Old age is much too risky for me.
J Fogarty (Upstate NY)
@BWF I actually figured out how to pull off that trick... But it was 125 years ago and I have forgotten the details. Sorry!
turbot (philadelphia)
Since elderly patients with underlying diseases are more likely to die from COVID-19, a rise in the COVID-19 number of deaths should be accompanied by a fall in the heart disease, cancer, dementia, etc. numbers. Also, a spike in deaths from COVID-19 should be followed by a fall in the number of deaths in the time period thereafter.
Lazyal (Indiana)
South Korea has had 75 fatalities as the pandemic winds down there. WHY would America have fatalities in the millions, far, far in excess of any other country?
Windy (Arizona)
@Lazyal it has to do with the testing. Testing seems to be tied to mortality rate, is one theory. South Korea tests 3,500 or more per million people. This is just a theory. If we ramp up testing, the United States might be looking at different mortality rates. I don't know the link between testing and mortality and why testing would make a difference, since there is not a cure.
Jenifer Wolf (New York)
@Windy Testing more gives a more realistic picture of how many people are infected, which in turn gives you a more realistic idea of what the mortality rate is for the virus.
Jim (Carmel NY)
@Lazyal South Korea began testing their citizens in mid-February, whether or not they were considered "at-risk, or not." This early testing allowed the South Korean government to quickly identify "CV Clusters" and then take the necessary steps to isolate only the identified cluster areas. I should note, I have been unable to find information on the true extent of South Korea's actual quarantine measures, the fact remains that their campaign to test as many people as possible appears to have helped "flatten the curve" in a relatively short period of time. I guess South Korea can experience a resurgence in the number of CV cases, but as of now, they seem to have the spread of the disease under control.
Steve (CA)
Another very concerning point is that recent research is showing that asymptomatic or presymptomatic people can have a larger viral load than symptomatic ones. Which makes containment strategies difficult, and it's hard to convince healthy feeling people to isolate themselves. Hoping that the projections are high, but feeling like we are less prepared for the tsunami of cases than we think we are.
rick (PA)
a brilliant presentation I will share with my patients. Far too many people still dismiss this as overreaction and hype.
Flyingoffthehandle (World Headquarters)
@rick what kind of patients do you see?
Naïs (Canada)
@Flyingoffthehandle DC day hospital
Chris Washkowiak (Peru,il)
It is impossible to say if we over reacted to this disease. One truthh in the end is that we will know if we under reacted!
Bobj (Mich)
@Chris Washkowiak that does not make any sense once its all said n done hindsight is 20/20 and we for sure will know if we over or under reacted If no more die - over reacted If 600,000 or more under. Trumph said it was a hoax a week ago so our leader has under reacted because it's no hoax.
clickhiker (Colorado)
@Bobj Trump did not say COVID-19 was a "hoax". He did say much of the coverage by media was a hoax. Trump was correct!
Wally Cleaver (The World)
@clickhiker It's unclear what Trump was referring to when he said 'it is a hoax', which is typical Trump, whether by design, or by accidental poor choice of words. Where's the proof that the coverage is a hoax, especially since Trump has now stated that he knew it was bad 7 weeks ago, when the media was starting to report about 'a novel coronavirus'?
Barbara (SC)
Whatever the eventual numbers are and as much as I appreciate the perspective of coronavirus vis-a-vis other illnesses, the fact is that most other illnesses have treatments and can be prevented. We don't know enough about this virus to prevent it. The government waited too long to address it in hopes it would simply go away, so doctors and nurses are ill because they don't have N95 masks. While I work to help others stay calm, I am still nervous. With some compromising disorders and being over 70, the simple act of shopping for groceries could be deadly. I'm not ready to go and I'm not ready for my son to be motherless as well as fatherless.
Flyingoffthehandle (World Headquarters)
@Barbara Well We know a lot about influenza but we can't prevent it So, your premise is flawed?
Wally Cleaver (The World)
@Flyingoffthehandle We have vaccines for flu; we also have effective treatments that at least prevent the flu's worst effects. Neither is available for this.
Bill Birrell (Santa Monica)
Please expand the fatality rate to 4.5%.
Boris (Dieppe)
@Bill Birrell and why would they need to do it?
Jim (Carmel NY)
Since South Korea is the only country that immediately began testing as many people as possible, regardless of whether or not they were symptomatic or had recent exposure to at-risk individuals, the current statistics demonstrate an overall infection rate of approximately 3.4% of the total population, and a mortality rate of approximately 1%. Extrapolating South Korea's statistics for the US would lead to approximately 10 million cases nationwide with a mortality rate of approximately 100,000. On the other end of the spectrum we have Italy where the current confirmed rate of infection is approximately 25%, with a corresponding 10% mortality rate. I'm certain there a multitude of reasons for the disparate outcomes for handling the CV in Italy and South Korea, the one answer that may best summarize the differences is trust in their respective governments, and in that respect Italy fails miserably, and unfortunately for the US our trust in the government, though better than Italy's is much lower than that of South Korea.
Mike (Denver)
@Jim - Simply wrong. The population of S Korea is 51,500,000 and at this time the TOTAL # of cases is 8236 or 0.01%. The resource of my stats? -
Jim (Carmel NY)
@Mike my stats were from the number of actual tests conducted.
Patrick Moore (Seattle)
@Jim Just because someone tested negative at one point in time does not mean they will not contract the virus in the future.
Mike (Dallas)
The projected number of deaths by age group needs to be put in perspective. The mortality RATES by age group need to be shown.
Graham Hodge (Buffalo NY)
@Mike I'm not sure why you want to see this split in statistics. Is it because deaths of old people are less important than deaths of young people?
True Believer (Capitola, CA)
@Graham Hodge Yes I think can answer that one. Deaths of old people are less important because they are ready to die soon anyway and because they can not contribute much to society anymore...also they consume way way too much of the healthcare resources. That is not fair to younger people.
Tom (Port Washington, NY)
The cruise ship off Japan might provide a useful example of a limited population that may have been almost entirely exposed to the virus in some way (that's a big assumption, but in a self-contained environment, maybe?). Out of 3700 passengers and crew, about 700, or under 20%, became infected, and of those, an older population, 7 have died so far, or 1% of those infected, but 0.2% of those who may have been exposed.
Wally Cleaver (The World)
@Tom That was with total mandatory lockdown in effect; guests were confined to their staterooms (after the disease had become rampant, admittedly.)
Ppotts (Eugene, Oregon)
Articles of the sort, though thought provoking, are at the same time very exasperating. The first line and the concluding sentence are the only indications of where we actually stand today. The rest is speculative to the point of being meaningless. We have today no way of calculating rates or estimating trends because we have no way of determining how many people are infected. As of today there is no readily available laboratory test for the novel Corona virus. I would welcome a rewrite of this article, but please not until there is real data upon which to calculate meaningful estimates and trends. We don’t need more fearmongering at this stage of a pandemic. And one or two sentences discussing the development of vaccines would have been much appreciated.
ms (Midwest)
@Ppotts There are specialized statistics used for modeling huge numbers. Those numbers include information regarding probabilities, ranges, and a whole host of information allowing experts/scientists to know what degree of confidence to have in their conclusions. Graduate level and beyond. Education matters.........
Tony (Summit, NJ)
@Ppotts In five years, an article can be written with precise numbers of cases, infected ratios at different ages, and deaths. The value of the estimates and comparisons to other viruses is to give us some idea of how to manage this virus NOW and control the spread. To reduce the deaths reported precisely in five years.
PeterE (Oakland,Ca)
Thanks for your excellent article. Most of the reporting on COVID-19 that I've read is repetitive or frantic and doesn't discuss data or projections.
Bob (Tucson, AZ)
The sliders demonstrate how sensitive the projections are to the estimated fatality rate. If the estimated fatality rate is .7 instead of .5 %, Covid 19 becomes the number 1 cause of death in the US. Meanwhile estimates range as high as 3%. The key to preventing a nightmare is to slow down the spread of the virus. Something that the current administration bungled badly. What is desparately needed is testing capacity. Don't believe the official press releases. Arizona officially has the capacity of performing 450 tests per day. Reality is that they recently tested 50 samples in a day and left a large backlog outstanding. Every state in the country needs hundreds if not thousands of test kits now. This is the biggest and key failure of the Trump Administration and it's "privitazation" policy, aka profiteering on national emergencies.
Mike Lohan (Los Angeles)
Don't use used toilet paper,but recycle. Hong Kong has the secret antidote.
David Martin (Vero Beach, Fla.)
The US has relatively few hospital beds per capita, due to our unusual emphasis on getting patients out of hospitals as soon as possible. As a result, we have relatively little space for people sick with Coronavirus and comparing our hospitalization rates to those for other countries might be misleading. I'm willing to suppose that Americans are more likely to be expected to stay home, or forced to do so for lack of insurance.
Charlotte (Virginia)
What happened to medical errors being the third cause of death????
Tom (Port Washington, NY)
@Charlotte that study (and yes, there was only one) has been largely discredited.
David J. Krupp (Queens, NY)
Please report on the number of people hospitalized due to conoid-19, their ages and their previous medical conditions and compare this to the seasonal Flu.
Matthew (NJ)
@David J. Krupp Why? Just take a look at Italy if you are attempting to minimize this at this late hour.
Inge (Oregon)
Very helpful graphics. Nice slider. Keep it up!
Matthew (NJ)
@Inge Yes. Did it give you a sense of control over the situation? Of playing god? What were your final inputs? Based on what?
Marc (Massachusetts)
I'm sure the data is scant, but this analysis seems incomplete without factoring in the indirect effects COVID will have on other disease fatality rates. That is, if hosp systems are overwhelmed with COVID patients, then their treatment of normally treatable ailments will be impacted, i.e. more deaths from flu, stroke, cardiac events, etc.
sissifus (australia)
@Marc Just like most diabetics don't die from diabetes directly but by some other condition on the list, induced or aggravated by diabetes, most deaths counted as From Covid are actually just With Covid. Therefore, this table of relative death numbers is hard to interpret, to say the least.
Northeast Mama (Vermont)
@Marc agreed, in fact I started reading this article thinking it would address that issue.
Patmos (USA)
It would be useful to understand how much of the > 70 mortality increase is due simply to old age (with perhaps decreased immune competency) and how much to the prevalence of chronic conditions (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc) among the elderly. If you're 75 and have no medical problems, how much does that help compared to an average 75 yo with a typical set of problems?
Tfarris11 (Virgina)
@Patmos Certainly being both old and with underlying health issues would increase one's risk of dying, but even healthy older people are at heightened risk as the average immune system declines with age, starting quite noticeably after about age 60 for most.
tdb (Berkeley, CA)
This is an excellent article. Among the best I've read properly contextualizing the disease. I have a question. Does the number of Coronavirus deaths in the 70s and 80s age group decrease the deaths by other causes in those groups? There must be a correlation of some sort there because people are not immortal and about that age they/we will begin to die anyway from one reason or another.
Tfarris11 (Virgina)
@tdb Excellent question. It would have to impact the numbers for other causes of death. The data for other causes of death do not change as one changes assumptions for Covid-19 deaths so this factor is not baked into the analysis.
Dan Whittet (Lincoln)
@tdb Right? If you die from the virus you no longer become a heart disease or cancer statistic!
Bob (Tucson, AZ)
@tdb IMO Covid 19 deaths among eldarly in nursing homes and hospitals will be understanted. It will be attributed to heart failure and no testing will be performed for Covid 19. These are "attended" deaths so autopsies are not required. Think about it. For-profit hospitals and for-profit nursing homes are not going to expose themselves to losses of business and lawsuits by admitting that their patients died from an infectious disease in an institution supposedly preventing the transmission of infectious disease.
monicashouts (New Mexico)
Fortunately, we have a modicum of control over the speed with which the virus spreads, but that's about all. I think infectious diseases are hard because we have to self-isolate during a time of vulnerability and need. Physical closeness and touch can now kill our loved ones.
Great article, thank you! The sliders are particularly helpful. As a pair of 75 year olds, my husband and I are minimizing contact with other people.
Steve (Maryland)
So much of the death rate depends on how Americans react to the perceived threats. I am sure there are and will remain a goodly portion of our citizens who regard the disease as not much to worry over. As an 83 year-old, I will be cautious and very careful and try to follow the guide lines I read in the papers. Still and all, there are no absolutes.
YD (Queens)
@Steve Absolutely. It's also the responsibility of relatively younger people to protect the senior citizens like you, by not going to the large gathering and avoiding crowded places. I hope people show more civility in this dire situation. Brunch gathering is not as important as people's lives.
Gus (Albuquerque)
For a baseline, the 1918 flu infected about 28% of the US, and the mortality rate was about 0.5% here, but in other countries it varied between 1%-2%. COVID 19 isn’t the 1918 flu, so I don’t think we can extrapolate the infection rate from 1918. But I do think it’s likely that even if the mortality rate worldwide is close to 2%, a 0.5% rate here is quite possible.
Ivan Light (Inverness CA)
@Gus The rate was low here because Americans were well nourished in 1919. Europeans had little to eat during World War I and so were malnourished when the epidemic arrived.
hiuralney (bronx)
@Gus Extrapolation from 1918 flu rates is a stretch for a large number of reasons. For example. USA's population is more concentrated now. Think of the farm families of 1918. Their contacts with other people were similar to those of us now "self-isolating".
Paul (Maryland)
This is very helpful. Analysis like this helps us as a society to decide if the potential health benefits are worth the medicine (higher unemployment, restaurants closing, bankrupting airlines, etc) This analysis says it is worth the economic pain.
Miguel (Brooklyn)
Doesn't it seem possible that the fatality rate would exceed 3%? Seems like a low ceiling given what we're seeing in Italy and can expect to see at our hospitals.
David Martin (Vero Beach, Fla.)
@Miguel The fatality rate varies with age and perhaps other factors. It's possible that Africa, with young populations, might be rather lightly affected. Italy and Japan have the oldest populations in the world. Accurate fatality rates are scarce; probably the most accurate are for South Korea, where testing has been thorough. The US has had little testing until now, so no one knows how many people are infected, except by vague inference from the numbers of the sick and dead.
See also