Professor and Head
Hong Kong University
The outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) imposed a substanal health burden in mainland China and remains a global epidemic threat. Our objectives are to assess the case fatality risk (CFR) among CO VID-19 patients detected in mainland China, stratified by clinical category and age group.
We collected individual information on laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases from publicly available official sources from December 29, 2019 to February 23, 2020. We explored the risk factors associated with mortality. We used methods accounting for right-censoring and survival analyses to estimatethe CFR among detected cases.
Of 12,863 cases reported outside Hubei, we obtained individual records for 9,651 cases, including 62 deaths and 1,449 discharged cases. The deceased were significantly older than discharged cases (median age: 77 vs 39 years, p<0.001). 58% (36/62) were male. Older age (OR 1.18 per year; 95% CI: 1.14 to 1.22), being male (OR 2.02; 95% CI: 1.02 to 4.03), and being treated in less developed economic regions (e.g., West and Northeast vs. East, OR 3.93; 95 %Cl:1.74 to 8.85) were mortality risk factors. The estimated CFR was 0.89-1.24% among all cases. The fatality risk among critical patients was 2-fold higher than that among severe and critical patients, and 24-fold higher than that among moderate, severe and critical patients.
Our estimates of CFR based on laboratory-confirmed cases ascertained outside of Hubei suggest that COVID-19 is not as severe as severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome, but more similar to the mortality risk of 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in hospitalized patients. The fatality risk of COVID-19 is higher in males and increases with age. Our study improves the severity assessment of the ongoing epidemic and can inform the COVID-19 outbreak response in China and beyond.