As the COVID-19 coronavirus extends its grip on the world, testing increases and more cases run their course, we can start to form a more accurate picture of its impact on human life. A true death rate is not yet known, and looking at the most recent data from Johns Hopkins University the variation between the most affected countries highlights the complexity of the situation.
Where there are the most infected people, in mainland China, the share of cases which have led to death is currently 4.0 percent. As with all countries the number of unreported cases - due to mild or no symptoms for example - could be high, leading to a lower share of total cases ending in death.
So far among the most affected countries, the highest share of cases resulting in death is the center of the European outbreak, Italy (8.3 percent). While the number of new cases in China has slowed significantly, the rate of increase in Europe is rapid and this share will develop accordingly in the coming weeks.
According to health experts, the prognosis for COVID-19 patients depends to a large extent on whether the infected person already suffers from previous illnesses such as heart, circulatory or lung diseases. For such patients the probability of a fatal outcome is much higher.