From Our Bureau                              


The Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic situation remained grim globally, with the confirmed cases across the world soaring to 1,81,42,718 and the death toll rising to  6,91,013 in the 216 affected countries and territories, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Globally, American region continued to be the worst-hit with 97,41,727 confirmed cases and 3,65,334 deaths. Europe came next with 34,25,017 confirmed cases and 2,14,238 deaths. South-East Asia region’s tally stood at 22,42,656 confirmed cases and 47,574 deaths.

Eastern Mediterranean region reported 15,74,551 confirmed cases and 41,202 deaths. African region registered 8,25,272 confirmed cases and 14,139 deaths. Western Pacific region recorded 3,32,754 confirmed cases and 8,513 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.

With over 18 million cases reported today, and new cases rising by around 250,000 each day, now is not the time to be complacent. As some economies and societies open up, WHO continues to urge the public to remain vigilant and take precautions to avoid getting COVID-19 even while urging countries to increase testing and contact tracing to ensure no cases are missed and ensure appropriate treatment is available.

In his regular media briefing yesterday, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated that “We have seen around the world, that it’s never too late to turn this pandemic around. If we act together today, we can save lives, we can save livelihoods if we do it all together.”

WHO has published a scientific brief on estimating mortality from COVID-19, an extremely useful indicator of the burden of the disease that helps guide policy decisions. The brief discusses the limitations and difficulties in interpreting the case fatality ratio of COVID-19, and potential biases that could arise in ascertaining mortality.

Subject in Focus: Estimating COVID-19 mortality rates

An important characteristic of an infectious disease, particularly one caused by a novel pathogen like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is its severity, including its ability to cause death.

Fatality rates help us understand the severity of a disease, identify at-risk populations, and evaluate the quality of healthcare. Furthermore, differences in mortality between groups of people and countries are important proxy indicators of relative risk of death that guide policy decisions regarding scarce medical resource allocations.

However, this is no easy task. To better understand fatality rates, WHO has published a scientific brief entitled ‘Estimating mortality from COVID-19.’ This document is intended to help countries estimate the proportion of deaths among identified confirmed cases (the case fatality ratio, CFR) and, if possible, the proportion of deaths among all infected individuals (the infection fatality ratio, IFR).

It looks in turn at how to calculate CFR and IFR, potential biases in the detection of cases and deaths, approaches to minimizing these biases in estimating fatality rates during ongoing epidemics, and how to take into account groups with different risk profiles, such as older people and those with underlying illness.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, broad variations in CFR estimates have been published, which may be misleading. This scientific brief concludes by providing some explanations for these variations, and why making comparisons between countries can be problematic.

  WHO will continue to support countries to improve their population data on COVID-19, and improve their estimates of fatality rates, thereby maximizing the effectiveness of their response by using such information to guide public health policy.  (eom)

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