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Case fatality rate of Covid-19: Losing more sleep over denominators

Corona virus disease 2019 (Covid-19) appears to have first infected humans in the Wuhan province of China sometime in late 2019.1 In many of the earliest identified cases, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory infection symptoms, rapidly developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), acute respiratory failure, and death have occurred. The virus has since been identified in, and is presumed to have spread to, many regions of the world. Fears of a possible pandemic have led to some level of panic in the US and around the world, with stocks of surgical grade masks disappearing from pharmacy shelves and online sellers faster than manufacturers have been able to keep up. Global stock markets have also reacted with some level of panic.

During a 25 February 2020 Senate hearing regarding 2021 budget request issues,2 the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, was asked by Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana a question about the novel corona virus now known as Covid-19: “What’s the mortality rate so far?”

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