Estimating Risk for Death from Coronavirus Disease, China, January-February 2020

Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Jun;26(6):1251-1256. doi: 10.3201/eid2606.200233. Epub 2020 Jun 17.


Since December 2019, when the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was identified in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei Province of China, the epidemic has generated tens of thousands of cases throughout China. As of February 28, 2020, the cumulative number of reported deaths in China was 2,858. We estimated the time-delay adjusted risk for death from COVID-19 in Wuhan, as well as for China excluding Wuhan, to assess the severity of the epidemic in the country. Our estimates of the risk for death in Wuhan reached values as high as 12% in the epicenter of the epidemic and ≈1% in other, more mildly affected areas. The elevated death risk estimates are probably associated with a breakdown of the healthcare system, indicating that enhanced public health interventions, including social distancing and movement restrictions, should be implemented to bring the COVID-19 epidemic under control.

Keywords: 2019 novel coronavirus disease; CFR; COVID-19; China; Hubei; SARS-CoV-2; Wuhan; case-fatality ratio; coronavirus; death; mortality; outbreak; respiratory diseases; risk; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; viruses; zoonoses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality*
  • Probability
  • Risk Assessment
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate