05 Jun 2020
  • Research Result

Estimating risk of death from COVID-19 in China from January to February

Highlights policies to rapidly contain disease

Japan -- A collaborative research project between epidemiologists at Kyoto University's Hakubi Center for Advanced Research and Georgia State University has reported on the estimated mortality risk from COVID-19 in China between January to February 2020.

The analysis -- published by Kenji Mizumoto of Kyoto and Gerardo Chowell of Georgia State in Emerging Infectious Diseases -- provides insight into possible strategies that communities and governments can take when faced with a disease with pandemic potential.

"Cause Fatality Rate, or CFR, provides vital information on the intensity, timing, and duration of interventions," explains Mizumoto. "Our final estimates for the risk for death in Wuhan ranged from a high of 12% in the epicenter of the epidemic and almost 1% in mildly affected areas." 

Two types of epidemiologic data were used in the analysis. The team extracted the daily confirmed cases and deaths reported by the respective governments of China, Hubei Province, and the city of Wuhan. The second set of data was a total of 50 epidemiologic descriptions of patients who died from COVID-19. 

"The initial crude CFR was the number of cumulative deaths divided by the number of cumulative cases at a specific point in time," continues Mizumoto. "Our real time CFR estimates were developed by adding other factors such as delay from hospitalization to death, and the number of new cases with reported day and area."

The high mortality rate in places like Wuhan City can be linked to surges in the medical system at the time, combined with nosocomial, or intra-hospital, infections and an increase in the number of unreported patients. 

"In the absence of vaccines or antiviral drugs, strategies to mitigate spread in a population is vital," Mizumoto concludes.

"Implementing handwashing and other hygiene-related interventions, along with social distancing and movement restrictions, are paramount in rapidly containing the disease."


Paper Information


Kenji Mizumoto and Gerardo Chowell (2020). Estimating Risk for Death from 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease, China, January–February 2020. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 26(6).