Just 0.05% of healthy under-70s with coronavirus will die from it, study claims
JUST 0.05 per cent of healthy people under the age of 70 who are infected with coronavirus will die from it, a study has claimed.
New research from Stanford University suggests Covid-19 infection-fatality rate (IFR) could be much lower than previously estimated.
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The estimate by controversial epidemiologist Dr John Ioannidis and published by the World Health Organisation implies just 1 in 2,000 healthy under-70s will die from coronavirus.
It’s five times lower than his previous estimate which suggests the IFR for all age groups was 0.25 per cent.
By comparison, seasonal flu is deadly for around 0.1 per cent of those who catch it.
Dr Ioannidis is currently under investigation at Stanford for allegedly underestimating the lethality of Covid-19.
It comes after he released a study which claimed coronavirus was 54 times more prevalent than thought in April.
Now his latest research has been criticised by other scientists who claim he used data from their studies incorrectly to establish the IFR figure.
He based his new estimate on a review of 61 different antibody testing surveys carried out globally.
The samples ranged from as low as 0.1 per cent in the Bay area of California to 53.4 per cent in Barrio Padre Mugica, Argentina.
Dr Ioannidis took the data from each region and divided the number of Covid deaths by the number of people estimated to be infected.
He said from this he was able to establish a median infection fatality rate of 0.27 per cent.
When people over the age of 70 were removed from the data, that figure fell to just 0.05 per cent.
However, he noted in his conclusion that the infection rate “varied substantially” across regions.
He added: “This may reflect differences in population age structure and casemix of infected and deceased patients and other factors.
“The inferred infection fatality rates tended to be much lower than estimates made earlier in the pandemic.”
Experts are yet to agree on how deadly the virus is.
The WHO says 0.6 per cent of those who are infected with Covid-19 will die, while the Government’s Scientific Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has put the IFR at 0.5 per cent.
Meanwhile, academics at Oxford University have used modelling to suggest a higher rate of 1.4 per cent.
For many countries, the size of the outbreak is unclear due to variations in testing – which the data is based on.
Scientists have urged caution over the findings as they rely on antibody tests and experts still don’t know how long they remain in the bloodstream.
Some studies have suggested that those with mild infection have barely-detectable antibody levels.
But scientists have urged caution when using this data because it is unclear how long antibodies actually remain in the bloodstream for when an infection has subsided.
And some studies have suggested that patients who endure only mild symptoms produce barely-detectable levels of them.
The Office for National Statistics carried out seroprevalence samples on 9,343 Brits which suggest up to 3.2 million would have antibodies if tested today.
Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, a PhD epidemiology student at the University of Wollongog in Australia claims his work was wrongly cited in the review.
He told MailOnline: “In what is distressingly something of a trend in the paper generally — we actually estimated 0.68 per cent in the published paper which came out recently.”
He added that the low infection rate estimated is “simply a consequence of the low quality of the review itself and has very little to do with when the estimates were made”.
Another student, Fabian Boetzl, an ecologist at the University of Wurzburg, Germany, said he “cannot understand” how Dr Ioannidis arrived at his rates because “it is not really described in the manuscript”.
In a statement, a WHO spokesperson said: “The Bulletin of the World Health Organization was created by WHO as a forum for public health experts to publish their findings, express their views and engage a wider audience on critical public health issues of the day.
“Consequently, the views expressed by the writers in these pages do not necessarily represent the views of WHO.”