• COVID-19 fatality rates have been difficult to determine.
  • Accurate fatality rates are important because they help people determine their specific risk.
  • However, a doctor explains why we may never get accurate COVID-19 fatality rates.

COVID-19 began spreading seven months ago, and there are still so many unknowns about the disease including fatality rate.

No one can say how many deaths are related to the novel coronavirus because determining the figure is trick, according to Zubin Damania, M.D . He explains health issues on his popular YouTube channel ZDoggMD.

Initially, the World Health Organization estimated deaths using the case fatality rate, according to a story published in the journal Nature . This is inaccurate because it accounts for the number of people who died after testing positive for COVID-19, the journal reports. This number doesn't include people who may have died from COVID-19 but were never tested, says Dr. Damania.

Now, researchers are trying to determine the infection mortality rate, which includes everyone who has COVID-19 but hasn't received testing. People may opt out of a formal diagnosis because they have minor symptoms or simply choose to self-quarantine without seeking treatment.

According to Dr. Damania, this number is extremely important because it helps determine government response.

"If it's underestimated, and we go to low, we might under-react and end up overwhelming our healthcare system and costing a bunch of lives," he says.

Similarly, a high estimate may cause governments to overreact and cause economic pains, he says.

Pinpointing how many people have the disease and how many people die from COVID-19 is difficult, says Dr. Damania. Some people may not know they're sickand therefore never get tested. Plus, antibody testing isn't accurate, so there's no way to really know how many people unknowingly had COVID-19.

"There's a lot of pitfalls to getting the number right," explains Dr. Damania.

So, why should you even care about the number? An accurate figure helps researchers provide the death rate for age groups, co-diseases, gender, and ethnicity, he explains.

For now, we should all wash our hands, wear masks, and get tested if we experience symptoms, says Dr. Damania.

"At the worst, we are doing the best we can for the most people."