Declining Fatality Rate in the US, but cases are not falling fast enough

I had an intuition, or rather expectation, that as the COVID crisis continues, the fatality levels would fall. The drivers behind my reasoning were as follows:

  1. Medical care would get better through the learning curve. Examples of this include reports of not putting people on ventilators immediately when oxygen levels are low – but monitoring closely instead
  2. Attempts to protect the more vulnerable segments of the population would become more effective. Example better ring fencing of nursing homes etc.
  3. More testing means people who previously had COVID but were not sick enough for hospital treatment and were not included in the COVID case stats – would now be captured in the data. Previously these people recovered at home, many of whom were untested. The US is now producing over 400,000 tests per day.

Taking data since April 21st – and comparing 7 day average fatalities with the 7 day average number of cases (lagged 3 weeks) results in the chart below. You can clearly see that from the early peak as the virus impacted the weaker segements of society, and testing data was incomplete / inadequate – we can see the number of fatalities stabilizing at around 3.5% of those confirmed with COVID.

US fatality rate is declining – but very slowly

3.5% is still a high number. To continue my theme on acceptable risk. If we assume an acceptable level of COVID fatality is 1 per million per day – that means the number of new cases per day must be less than 28 per million. Only 12 states meet that criteria. The US aggregate numbers show 64 new cases per million per day. Slightly more than twice the level needed to remain within an acceptable level of fatalities.

On the global basis here are the large countries with lower levels of new case creation

CountryNew Cases Per million
Some countries with current low levels of COVID case creation. US for comparison

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