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

Yang, Wan; Kandula, Sasikiran; Huynh, Mary; Greene, Sharon; Van Wye, Gretchen; Li, Wenhui; Chan, Hiu Tai; McGibbon, Emily; Yeung, Alice; Olson, Donald R.; Fine, Anne; Shaman, Jeffrey L.


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.

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).

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.

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.

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The Lancet Infectious Diseases

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Academic Units
Environmental Health Sciences
Published Here
August 13, 2021