New CDC Estimates Suggest COVID-19 Is Deadlier Than the Agency Previously Thought
The latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest COVID-19 is deadlier than the CDC previously thought, especially among older Americans. According to the “best estimate” in the most recent version of the CDC’s COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios, 9 percent of people 65 or older who are infected by the COVID-19 virus die from the disease. The estimated infection fatality rates (IFRs) for other age groups are much lower but still generally higher than the numbers the CDC was using prior to March 19.
The estimated IFR is 0.002 percent for people 17 or younger, 0.05 percent for 18-to-49-year-olds, and 0.6 percent for 50-to-64-year-olds. The CDC’s prior estimates used somewhat different age groups, which makes direct comparisons tricky. But the estimated IFR for the oldest age group has risen dramatically, from 5.4 percent for 70 to 9 percent for 65 .
The new estimates are also higher for the second-oldest group (0.6 percent for 50-to-64-year-olds now vs. 0.5 percent for 50-to-69-year-olds previously) and the second-youngest group (0.05 percent for 18-to-49-year-olds vs. 0.02 percent for 20-to-49-year-olds). The new estimate for the youngest age group is lower (0.002 percent for 17 or younger vs. 0.003 percent for 19 or younger), but that may reflect the lower cutoff.
The CDC’s earlier estimates were based on a July 2020 PLOS Medicine study that used data from Hubei, China, and six regions of Europe. The Chinese numbers were reported in January and February 2020, while the European numbers were reported in March and April 2020. The CDC’s new estimates are based on a systematic review and meta-analysis published by the European Journal of Epidemiology in December. The meta-analysi
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