Estimates of the casefatality rate (CFR) associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vary widely in different population settings. We sought to estimate and compare the COVID-19 CFR in Canada and the United States while adjusting for 2 potential biases in crude CFR.
We used the daily incidence of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in Canada and the US from Jan. 31 to Apr. 22, 2020. We applied a statistical method to minimize bias in the crude CFR by accounting for the survival interval as the lag time between disease onset and death, while considering reporting rates of COVID-19 cases less than 50% (95% confidence interval 10%-50%).
Using data for confirmed cases in Canada, we estimated the crude CFR to be 4.9% on Apr. 22, 2020, and the adjusted CFR to be 5.5% (credible interval [CrI] 4.9%-6.4%). After we accounted for various reporting rates less than 50%, the adjusted CFR was estimated at 1.6% (CrI 0.7%-3.1%). The US crude CFR was estimated to be 5.4% on Apr. 20, 2020, with an adjusted CFR of 6.1% (CrI 5.4%-6.9%). With reporting rates of less than 50%, the adjusted CFR for the US was 1.78 (CrI 0.8%-3.6%).
Our estimates suggest that, if the reporting rate is less than 50%, the adjusted CFR of COVID-19 in Canada is likely to be less than 2%. The CFR estimates for the US were higher than those for Canada, but the adjusted CFR still remained below 2%. Quantification of case reporting can provide a more accurate measure of the virulence and disease burden of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.