Novel coronavirus (103) CORE Group: Call for Covid-19 preparedness and response resources (3)

8 March, 2020

Dear All,

It has been pointed out to me that the "back of the envelope calculation" I did acomparing Covid-19 death rates with flu death rates was out by a factor of 10. [ My apologies. Although this doesn't change the point I was making, but just for the record, and using better influenza burden data from CDC ( ), here are the correctly calculated (but still approximate) numbers:

Using preliminsary CDC data for the burden of influenza in the US in the 2018-2019 season ( ), in the US alone, the flu has caused an estimated 35,520,883 symptomatic illnesses and 34,157 deaths, which gives a death rate of 0.096%. With Covid-19, the reported figures from 7 March show 3,486 deaths out of 101,927 sick, which gives a death rate of 3.42%. From this back-of-the-envelope calculation, corvid-19 appears to be about 36 times deadlier than the flu. As before, it shouid be noted that many light cases caused by Covid-19 which didn’t end in death have no doubt gone unreported, which would have the effect of lowering this death rate somewhat.



Chris Zielinski

Blogs: and

Research publications:

HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Global Health, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme at the University of Winchester. Formerly an NGO, Phi supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. Chris also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. He was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Resource Centres project. He served on WHO’s Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. Chris has been a director of the World Association of Medical Editors, UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). UK-based, he is also building houses in Zambia. chris AT

His publications are at and and his blogs are and