Pandemic 2020 #5 – Understanding Case Fatality Rate

Cases are increasing in the United States. I know many people thought this was over, but those people aren’t paying attention:

There are several “death rates” being slewed about by different people. Those that peg this virus as having a very low death rate should be ignored. Not because it’s not possible, but because these figures are looking at the current deaths and comparing to the entire US population as a whole. You can’t do that until the event is over, and this pandemic is far from over.

For example, as of 6-24-2020 there have been 121,980 US deaths. Comparing this to the 330 million people in the country, it looks like you have a 0.03% chance of dying from COVID-19. I’m sure you’ve seen this bandied about on the social media platforms. To be clear, these people are either completely ignorant of the figure they’re using, or they’re purposefully lying to you. I’ll let you decide which.

The number you need to look at is the Case Fatality Rate, or CFR for a reasonable look at the death rate. CFR is calculated by dividing the number of deaths into the total number of cases. Note, cases are those who have been determined to either currently be infected or were infected at one time (recovered). For yesterday’s data, we have 121,980 deaths and 2,381,493 total cases (121,980 ÷ 2,381,493) = 0.051 or 5.1%. 

This means 5.1% of known cases have died. That’s about a 1 in 20 chance of dying from COVID-19. That’s rather different from 0.03% chance some are telling people.

One of the issues with the CFR is there is a lag between initial infection and recovery, and even then you still have a difference in the amount of time it takes to recover or die. Another fatality rate you can look at is the Resolved Fatality Rate, or RFR. This rate only looks at resolved cases and determines the death rate. A resolved case is someone who has recovered, as in they no longer have an active virus, or they die. There are only those two resolutions.

As of 6-24-2020, there there have been 121,980 deaths and 656,161 recovered. Thus, total recovered cases is 778,141. To find the RFR, divide the deaths by the total recovered: 121,980 ÷ 656,161. This gives us an RFR of 15.7%. 

This means – out of the TWO ONLY OUTCOMES – nearly 16% of people have died from COVID-19. That’s a 1:6.4 chance of dying; about the same odds of playing Russian Roulette with a 6-shot revolver and a live round in one chamber. Those odds aren’t looking so good, are they?

One thing you need to keep in mind is this is an ongoing pandemic. We are nowhere near the end of this. Heck, we’re not even close to being in the middle of the course of this virus. Think about is this way… there are currently about 2.4 million Americans infected. Scientists estimate the actual number of cases is about 10 times greater than what we can see with testing. That means about 24 million infected people in the US. 

While that sounds like a lot of people, it’s only a 7.2% of the total US population. We’re not even at a 10% infected rate yet! 

Yesterday, 6-24-2020, was the 155th day since the first infection in the USA. That’s only a little over five months. We’ve only been dealing with this here in the US for FIVE MONTHS – and look how poorly many people are handling it. Do you think these people have the wherewithal to withstand real hardship? The WWII generation had to fight a world war on multiple fronts and defeated the Nazis. This generation only had to stay home or wear cloth face coverings when going into public – and they’re pissed off about having to be inconvenienced.

If it took five months to infect 10% of the US, that means it could take another 45 months – 3.75 years – to infect the remaining 90% of people in this country. It might take far less than than ~4 years with exponential growth of virus transmission, but it might if we keep “opening up the economy” too soon, only to lock people down again. Regardless of which path we take, we still have more than a year with this virus. 

What do you think America will look like in 12-18 months from now? Are you prepared for it?

Get Prepared, Be Prepared.

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