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Tue Nov 24, 2020, 02:22 PM

Epidemiologists: Coronavirus survival rates in the United States haven't improved since the summer

It’s true that better treatments are now available, but their impact isn’t nearly big enough to avoid an impending surge of deaths, expected to soon exceed 2,000 a day in the United States. And while the case fatality rate declined early in the pandemic, it hasn’t budged since the summer.

“It’s been rock solid stable since July, around 1.7 percent,” said David Dowdy, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If anything, I think there is a concern it will go up again because we’re seeing hospitals reaching their capacity.”

Trevor Bedform, a genomic epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchsinson Cancer Research Center, found there have been no improvements in the death rates since August. Since then, the death rate among those diagnosed with covid-19 has averaged 1.8 percent, he told The Atlantic.“This rate is a major improvement, down more than tenfold from the earliest days of the pandemic, when deaths were high and the extreme limits on coronavirus testing held down the number of diagnosed cases,” The Atlantic's Alexis C. Madrigal and Whet Moser write. “But in this new phase of the pandemic, when testing is more widely available and a much higher proportion of cases are diagnosed to begin with, it is also terrible, terrible news.”

The antibody treatments from Eli Lilly and Regeneron are the most promising treatments so far. But they’re in short supply and difficult to administer, so they’re not going to be a magic bullet for saving the nation from a massive death toll this winter.


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