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Estimating the infection-fatality risk of SARS-CoV-2 in New York City during the spring 2020 pandemic wave: a model-based analysis.

Abstract

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research Program, and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

During the period March 1 to June 6, 2020, 205 639 people had a laboratory-confirmed infection with SARS-CoV-2 and 21 447 confirmed and probable COVID-19-related deaths occurred among residents of New York City. We estimated an overall infection-fatality risk of 1·39% (95% credible interval 1·04-1·77) in New York City. Our estimated infection-fatality risk for the two oldest age groups (65-74 and ≥75 years) was much higher than the younger age groups, with a cumulative estimated infection-fatality risk of 0·116% (0·0729-0·148) for those aged 25-44 years and 0·939% (0·729-1·19) for those aged 45-64 years versus 4·87% (3·37-6·89) for those aged 65-74 years and 14·2% (10·2-18·1) for those aged 75 years and older. In particular, weekly infection-fatality risk was estimated to be as high as 6·72% (5·52-8·01) for those aged 65-74 years and 19·1% (14·7-21·9) for those aged 75 years and older.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, the infection-fatality risk (ie, risk of death among all infected individuals including those with asymptomatic and mild infections) is crucial for gauging the burden of death due to COVID-19 in the coming months or years. Here, we estimate the infection-fatality risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in New York City, NY, USA, the first epidemic centre in the USA, where the infection-fatality risk remains unclear.

Our results are based on more complete ascertainment of COVID-19-related deaths in New York City than other places and thus probably reflect the true higher burden of death due to COVID-19 than that previously reported elsewhere. Given the high infection-fatality risk of SARS-CoV-2, governments must account for and closely monitor the infection rate and population health outcomes and enact prompt public health responses accordingly as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.

In this model-based analysis, we developed a meta-population network model-inference system to estimate the underlying SARS-CoV-2 infection rate in New York City during the 2020 spring pandemic wave using available case, mortality, and mobility data. Based on these estimates, we further estimated the infection-fatality risk for all ages overall and for five age groups (<25, 25-44, 45-64, 65-74, and ≥75 years) separately, during the period March 1 to June 6, 2020 (ie, before the city began a phased reopening).

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