The organisation now estimates that 10% of the world's population has caught the virus
Dividing the amount of deaths attributed to the virus by this number results in a ‘true’ death rate of 0.13%, commonly known as infection fatality rate, which is only just higher than that of influenza, which is commonly around 0.1%.
Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergency operations chief, revealed an estimate of infections 20 times higher than the confirmed cases on Monday 5th October. He said “Our current best estimates tell us about 10% of the global population may have been infected by this virus,”
This is roughly 800 million people.
He carried on: “It varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies depending on groups. But what it does mean is that the vast majority of the world remains at risk,” he continued. “We are now heading into a difficult period. The disease continues to spread.”
The above is commonly reported, but it’s interesting to note the tone accompanying the reported figures. These numbers result in an infection fatality rate which is a far cry from their original estimates of 4%. This should be openly reported and used to influence decisions on the best strategies for governments across the world. For example, if the fatality rate estimates were still thought to be far higher than influenza, this could bolster the idea that more draconian restrictions are justified. However, the rhetoric here and in the media is singly focused on the danger ‘still to come’, which only does to add to the panic.
My previous entry reviewed estimates of the ‘true death rate’, more technically known as infection fatality rate (IFR). It found estimates of between 0.05% and 1%, with an average of ~0.4%. This was written over 5 months ago when the media was still reporting figures far higher. As I predicted, as more data becomes available, the IFR is dropping, and I personally believe that even the WHO’s recent estimate is a conservative one.
The significance of this is that as the number moves towards that of ‘normal’ influenza, tight restrictions on personal freedoms imposed by governments across the world should be intensely scrutinised and questioned harder than ever. One of the most important questions my work has aimed to address is whether governments worldwide have not only implemented proportionate responses to the situation, but reacted in a way which will truly help as many people as possible and those who are vulnerable.
In future entries I will predict how I think the whole situation will pan out, so it is in writing and I do not appear to be of the ‘clever-after-the-event’ brigade. I will also pose solutions to the situation because criticism is weak without alternative suggestions.
What do you think? Read the next installment in the Covid-19 Review here!