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


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).

MIDAS Network Members