- More than 212,000 people have been infected with the new coronavirus and at least 8,700 have died worldwide.
- Generally, the death rate seems to decrease as more people are tested and cases are confirmed.
- The following chart compares death rates in 16 countries that have confirmed deaths and more than 1,000 cases.
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Italy reported 475 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday the highest one-day death toll of any nation since the coronavirus outbreak began.
The coronavirus' death rate in Italy is higher than anywhere else in the world right now. The rate, a basic calculation that divides the number of known deaths by the total number of confirmed cases, was about 8% in Italy as of Tuesday afternoon.
Belgium, where 10 patients have died out of 1,243 total case, has a death rate of just 0.8%.
While this variation between countries may sound concerning, the rate strongly depends on how many people get tested for the virus. In countries like South Korea, which has tested 295,647 people as of Wednesday, the death rate is lower than in, say, the US, which has tested less than 60,000 .
Because countries' coronavirus case totals and death tolls are constantly changing as the outbreak grows and evolves, countries' death rates are not static.
On March 6, the US had the highest death rate about 6% among countries with more than 100 cases. Italy's death rate at the time was about half of what it is now.
Widespread testing could mean a lower death rate because the majority of coronavirus cases about 80% are considered mild. But the cases tested and reported first are often those with the most severe symptoms, since those people go to the hospital. Milder cases, on the other hand, could go uncounted or get reported later on, so the true number of infected people is likely much higher than the reported total .
"If indeed we discover that there are far more cases that are actually being reported, and that one of the primary reasons for this is that we're just not detecting asymptomatic or mild or moderately symptomatic cases that don't end up seeking healthcare, then our estimates for the case fatality rate will likely decrease," Lauren Ancel Meyers, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas at Austin, previously told Business Insider .
Very mild cases, she added, "may not make it onto the radar of public health agencies."
The death rate is not the same as your chance of dying
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated on March 3 that the global death rate for the coronavirus is about 3.4%. New research that has yet to be peer-reviewed from a group of Chinese researchers suggests the rate could be less than the WHO's estimate. The death rate in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began in December, is about 1.4%, the new study shows.
The death rate of a disease is different from its mortality rate the latter is the number of deaths out of the number of people in an at-risk population. A death rate is not a reflection of the likelihood that any given person will die if infected.
According to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the coronavirus' mortality rate is probably around 1% which is still about 10 times higher than that of the flu.
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