Researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) said on Thursday that due to improved treatment, the likelihood of a fatal coronavirus infection has dropped by nearly a third since April.
IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray told Reuters that in the United States, COVID-19 currently kills about 0.6% of people infected with the virus, compared to about 0.9% in the early stages of the pandemic.
He said the statistics reflect that doctors have found better ways to care for patients, including the use of blood thinners and oxygen support. Effective treatments have also been established, such as the universal steroid dexamethasone.
Experts have been trying to accurately measure the key indicator of the pandemic: the death rate or the percentage of people who may die if infected with pathogenic bacteria. Since many infected people have no symptoms and have never been recognized, this fact exacerbates the problem.
IHME said it has been using the infection fatality rate (IFR) from surveys that take into account age. Compared with young people, elderly people have a much higher risk of dying from COVID-19.
“We know that risk is closely related to age. For every additional year, the risk of death increases by 9%,” Murray said.
The Seattle Institute is an influential source of COVID-19 predictions, and it said that it also determined that COVID-19 mortality rates are higher in communities with high levels of obesity.
The organization stated that it has now switched to IFR over time. Since the first pandemic in March and April, IFR has fallen by about 0.19% every day until early September.
It also varies from place to place with the incidence of obesity, and continues to vary according to the age distribution of the population.
IHME stated that an analysis of age-standardized death rates from more than 300 surveys showed a 30% drop since March/April.
Despite this positive trend, infections and hospitalizations across the country have surged in recent weeks. The organization said its model showed that by March 1, the cumulative number of deaths in the United States was 439,000, and the peak daily death toll in mid-January was 2,200.
Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Bill Berkrot