Estimating Case Fatality and Case Recovery Rates of COVID-19: is this the right thing to do?

Morteza Abdullatif Khafaie, Fakher Rahim


Introduction: Case fatality rates (CFRs) and case recovery rates (CRRs) are frequently used to define health consequences related to specific disease epidemics, including the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to compare various methods and models for calculating CFR and CRR related to COVID-19 based on the global and national data available as of April 2020.

Methods: This analytical epidemiologic study was conducted based on detailed data from 210 countries and territories worldwide in April 2020. We used three different formulas to measure CFR and CRR, considering all possible scenarios.

Results: We included information for 72 countries with more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19. Overall, using first, second, and third estimation models, the CFR were 6.22%, 21.20%, and 8.67%, respectively; similarly, the CRR was estimated as 23.21%, 78.86%, 32.23%, respectively. We have shown that CFRs vary so much spatially and depend on the estimation method and timing of case reports, likely resulting in overestimation.

Conclusion: Even with the more precise method of CFRs estimation, the value is overestimated. Case fatality and recovery rates should not be the only measures used to evaluate disease severity, and the better assessment measures need to be developed as indicators of countries’ performance during COVID-19 pandemic.


Coronavirus; COVID-19; Case fatality rates; CFRs; Case recovery rates; CRRs

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