Covid-19/ Insights

Detecting COVID-19 deaths soon after realizing coronavirus is spreading in a country is a serious concern

The time between the first recognized case and first recognized death may be an indicator of how capable a country is at finding and responding to diseases.

Rendering of the 2019-nCoV virion. Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/REUTERS

The time between first recognized case and first recognized death may be an indicator of how capable a country is at finding and responding to diseases. A new analysis from Resolve to Save Lives suggests that if deaths are identified soon after cases, it could mean that there is unrecognized spread in the community before the first diagnosed case. Therefore, more people may be at risk of severe illness and may be recognized at a more advanced stage of their illness, increasing their risk of both transmitting infection and of death. Resolve to Save Lives looked at ten countries with 50 or more coronavirus cases as of March 2, 2020. Countries were divided into two categories based on when they identified their first death in relation to when they identified their first case. The five countries (France, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea) that had their first death within 30 days had a much higher total case and death count, higher case-fatality rate, and more average cases per day overall. The other five countries (Germany, Kuwait, Singapore, Spain and the US) that had no death within the first 30 days had a much lower total case and death count, lower case-fatality rate, and fewer average cases per day. In conclusion, if a country identifies its first coronavirus death soon after initial cases are recognized, this may reflect wider-than-recognized spread in the country and predict a larger, more deadly outbreak.

 

Case information
Country category Total cases Average cases per day since first case
First death within 30 days or less of first case 8,337 50
No death within 30 days of first case 544 4

 

Death information
Country category Total deaths Case-Fatality Rate
First death within 30 days or less of first case 155 2%
No death within 30 days of first case 6 1%

 

 

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