Study: Vast Majority of Coronavirus Infections Are Mild

February 19, 2020

Most people infected by the new coronavirus in China have mild symptoms, with older patients and those with underlying conditions most at risk from the disease, according to a study by Chinese researchers.

The disease has now killed nearly 1,900 people and infected more than 72,000 in China since it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

A paper published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology looked at 72,314 confirmed, suspected, clinically diagnosed, and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 illness across China as of February 11.

It is the biggest study on novel coronavirus patients since the outbreak began in late December.

Here are the main findings from the paper by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC):

Elderly, sick at risk

Some 80.9 percent of infections are classified as mild, 13.8 percent as severe and only 4.7 percent as critical.

The highest fatality rate is for people aged 80 and older, at 14.8 percent.

The study finds that patients with cardiovascular disease are most likely to die of complications from the novel coronavirus, followed by patients with diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and hypertension.

There were no deaths among children aged up to 9, despite at least two cases of newborn babies infected through their mothers.

Up to age 39, the death rate remains low at 0.2 percent.

The fatality rate increases gradually with age. For people in their 40s it is 0.4 percent, in their 50s it is 1.3 percent, in their 60s it is 3.6 percent and their 70s it is 8.0 percent.

Men are more likely to die (2.8 percent) than women (1.7 percent).

The overall death rate from the virus stood at 2.3 percent.

While the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002-2003 affected fewer people, the fatality rate was nearly 10 percent.

The US Centres for Disease Control says between 26 million to 36 million Americans contracted seasonal flu between October 2019 and February 8 this year, and there were between 14,000 to 36,000 deaths – a fatality rate of around 0.1 percent.

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