Thoughts on economics and liberty

COVID-19 death rate is likely < 1% even in countries with older populations

This is a placeholder post – will write an article in TOI blogs on this matter in a week or two. Studies so far are all over the place – I’ll need to go through them systematically to determine which of them are more reliable and relevant, before arriving at a more formal view for my TOI blog.

Initial conclusions

From what I’ve been reading, we should assume at this stage that this virus more deadly than flu, but nowhere in the range of the Spanish flu. A key point also is that IFR depends on population structure. Therefore for younger populations like India, IFR will be far lower.

When this began society needed to assume that the virus is deadly and prepare a defensive strategy. Staggered herd immunity (based on age-based risk management) was the most defensive strategy (followed only by Sweden), and remains the best strategy even today. Lockdowns don’t solve the problem, merely delay its resolution.


We should use excess deaths as a proxy numerator just as we use serological studies to infer the denominator. That will give IFRs which are higher than most serological studies. [See data at

What Antibody Studies Can Tell You — and More Importantly, What They Can’t

An obvious concern with volunteer surveys is that people will preferentially enroll because they think they had COVID-19 and want confirmation. Notably, the NIH lists prior COVID-19 or current symptoms as exclusion criteria. But World Health Organization (WHO) guidance advises against excluding known cases.

The results of coronavirus ‘serosurveys’ are starting to be released. Here’s how to kick their tires

What COVID-19 Antibody Tests Can and Cannot Tell Us

Experts say it is imperative in these early days to review the methodologies of these studies and assess the performance of the antibody tests being used. It’s also important to recognize that many have not yet gone through the rigorous peer review process before results are made public. Some are publicized in press releases, others on preprint servers, which post drafts of scientific papers before publication in journals so that they can be shared rapidly.


But some emerging evidence suggests at least some people with really mild or almost symptom-free infections may have very low levels of antibodies — or no detectable antibody at all. That will complicate both the testing and the interpretation of any results.

“If people with mild disease don’t have antibodies, do they then have some kind of immunity or not at all?” Koopmans wondered. [Source]

Antibody surveys suggesting vast undercount of coronavirus infections may be unreliable – Sciencemag 21 April 2020


Remember, the IFR is not inherent to the virus — how old and healthy your population is and how many ICU beds were available for patients also will affect this number for your region. [Source]


As of May 2020, scientific studies indicate an infection fatality rate (IFR) between 0.6% and 0.9% (in countries where the average age and/or obesity rates are relatively quite high).  [SOURCE]

Swiss Propaganda Research

Studies on Covid-19 lethality

Findings have come in from Santa Clara County, California, as well as Los Angeles, New York, Chelsea, Massachusetts, and Miami-Dade County, Florida. [Source]


as of April 27, about one out of every 500 residents of New York City has died from this virus. (This includes deaths that New York City deems likely to be due to COVID-19, despite not having a lab-confirmed test.) [Source]

The results of coronavirus ‘serosurveys’ are starting to be released. Here’s how to kick their tires

Fundamental principles of epidemic spread highlight the immediate need for large-scale serological surveys to assess the stage of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic‘, Sunetra Gupta et al, MedRxiv, March 24th 2020

Can We Measure COVID-19 Seroprevalence With a Flawed Ruler?

Antibody tests support what’s been obvious: Covid-19 is much more lethal than the flu

when all the serological data is compiled and analyzed, the fatality rate among people who have been infected could be less than 1 percent.

Multiple Studies Suggest COVID-19 Mortality Rate May Be Lower Than Expected – 7 May 2020

SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) Implied by the Serology, Antibody, Testing in New York City – 11 May

A systematic review and meta-analysis of published research data on COVID-19 infection-fatality rates – 6 May

Heinsberg Study: Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for COVID-19 Determined for the First Time

US death rate for coronavirus is 1.3% – TEN TIMES more fatal than the seasonal flu but less deadly than the WHO’s initial prediction of 2%  this is based on a really bad study!

COVID-19: It Is Time to Take a Step Back From Stories of ‘Doom and Gloom’ – 12 May 2020

Current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may have a higher fatality rate than the flu, but a definitive conclusion requires more studies – 28 April 2020

Antibody tests support what’s been obvious: Covid-19 is much more lethal than the flu – 28 April 2020

Research team determines COVID-19 infection fatality rate – 4 May 2020

Inferring the infection fatality rate (ifr) of Covid-19 from the behaviour of Lombardy, Madrid and London relative to the remainder of Italy, Spain and England

Coronavirus may have infected half of UK population – Oxford study‘ by Clive Cookson, Financial Times, March 24th 2020

How deadly is the coronavirus? It’s still far from clear‘ by Dr John Lee, The Spectator, March 28th 2020

Covid antibody test in German town shows 15 per cent infection rate‘ by Ross Clark, The Spectator, April 10th 2020

1-in-7 New Yorkers May Have Already Gotten Covid-19‘ by Justin Fox, Bloomberg, April 15th 2020

COVID-19 Antibody Seroprevalence in Santa Clara County, California‘, John Ioannidis et al, medRixv, April 17th 2020

Stanford study suggests coronavirus is more widespread than realized‘ by Ross Clark, The Spectator, April 17th 2020

Global Covid-19 Case Fatality Rates‘ by Jason Oke and Carl Heneghan, CEBM, April 17th 2020

Early results of antibody testing suggest number of COVID-19 infections far exceeds number of confirmed cases in Los Angeles County‘, University of Southern California and Los Angeles County Public Health Department, April 20th 2020

Getting a handle on asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection‘, Daniel P Oran and Eric J Topol, Scripps Research, April 20th 2020

New York antibody study estimates 13.9% of residents have had the coronavirus, Gov. Cuomo says‘, CNBC, April 23rd 2020


This German study is a game changer – just 0.37% death rate + massive immunity already

A key focus ought to be to stop super spreading events.





Sanjeev Sabhlok

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