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Estimating The Infection FatalityRate Among Symptomatic COVID19 Cases In The United States

Anirban Basu


Knowing the infection fatality rate (IFR) of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 infections is essential for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Using data through April 20, 2020, we fit a statistical model to COVID-19 case fatality rates over time at the US county level to estimate the COVID-19 IFR among symptomatic cases (IFR-S) as time goes to infinity. The IFR-S in the US was estimated to be 1.3% (95% central credible interval: 0.6% to 2.1%). County-specific rates varied from 0.5% to 3.6%. The overall IFR for COVID-19 should be lower when we account for cases that remain and recover without symptoms. When used with other estimating approaches, our model and our estimates can help disease and policy modelers to obtain more accurate predictions for the epidemiology of the disease and the impact of alternative policy levers to contain this pandemic. The model could also be used with future epidemics to get an early sense of the magnitude of symptomatic infection at the populationlevel before more direct estimates are available. Substantial variation across patient demographics likely exists and should be the focus of future studies.


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