Clarification of Misleading Perceptions of COVID-19 Fatality and Testing Rates in Italy: Data Analysis

J Med Internet Res. 2020 Jun 17;22(6):e19825. doi: 10.2196/19825.


Background: The fatality rate of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Italy is controversial and is greatly affecting discussion on the impact of containment measures that are straining the world's social and economic fabric, such as instigating large-scale isolation and quarantine, closing borders, imposing limits on public gatherings, and implementing nationwide lockdowns.

Objective: The scientific community, citizens, politicians, and mass media are expressing concerns regarding data suggesting that the number of COVID-19-related deaths in Italy is significantly higher than in the rest of the world. Moreover, Italian citizens have misleading perceptions related to the number of swab tests that have actually been performed. Citizens and mass media are denouncing the coverage of COVID-19 swab testing in Italy, claiming that it is not in line with that in other countries worldwide.

Methods: In this paper, we attempt to clarify the aspects of COVID-19 fatalities and testing in Italy by performing a set of statistical analyses that highlight the actual numbers in Italy and compare them with official worldwide data.

Results: The analysis clearly shows that the Italian COVID-19 fatality and mortality rates are in line with the official world scenario, as are the numbers of COVID-19 tests performed in Italy and in the Lombardy region.

Conclusions: This up-to-date analysis may elucidate the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy.

Keywords: COVID-19; Italy; Lombardy region; SARS-CoV-2; fatality rate; swab tests.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / statistics & numerical data*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy
  • Data Analysis
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Mortality
  • Pandemics
  • Perception
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2