Media Outlets Discuss Coronavirus Death Rate, Severity, Transmission

Los Angeles Times: How deadly is the new coronavirus? Scientists race to find the answer
“Of all the questions scientists hope to answer about the new coronavirus sweeping across the globe, the most pressing is this: How deadly is it? The only way to know is to figure out how many people have been infected — and that’s the real challenge. More than 60,000 infections have been confirmed, but experts are certain there are at least tens of thousands more. Some cases haven’t been counted because patients didn’t have biological samples sent to a lab. Some never saw a doctor, and others had such mild symptoms that they didn’t even know they were sick. Without a true picture of the total number of cases, it’s impossible to calculate a fatality rate. That’s why scores of epidemiologists and mathematicians are working to solve one of the most complex modeling problems of their time…” (Baumgaertner, 2/12).

MedPage Today: No Coronavirus Vertical Transmission in Early Study
“Findings from nine late-stage pregnancies in which the mother was infected with the novel coronavirus suggest ‘vertical transmission’ — passing infection from mother to infant in utero — does not occur. In nine pregnant women with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia (the new name for the novel coronavirus infection sweeping China), samples from their infants, including amniotic fluid, cord blood, and a neonatal throat swab, tested negative for the virus, reported Yuanzhen Zhang, PhD, of Wuhan University in China, and colleagues, writing in The Lancet…” (Walker, 2/12).

Washington Post: Most coronavirus cases are mild, complicating the response
“The coronavirus has killed more than 1,300 people, brought a huge swath of central China to a standstill, and rattled millions around the globe with hints of a pandemic seen in Hollywood fantasies. But the virus’s destructive potential has overshadowed one encouraging aspect of this outbreak: So far, about 82 percent of the cases — including all 14 in the United States — have been mild, with symptoms that require little or no medical intervention. And that proportion may be an undercount. Health authorities managing the outbreak are trying to understand what that critical fact portends. Are the 60,000 sick people tallied so far just a portion of a vast reservoir of uncounted victims, some of whom may be spreading the disease? And do the mild illnesses reveal characteristics of the virus itself — something that could be useful in crafting a more effective response?…” (Bernstein/Johnson, 2/12).

Additional coverage on these topics is available from Al Jazeera and STAT.

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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