Researchers, initially analyzing data from outbreaks on cruise ships and more recently from surveys of thousands of people in virus hot spots, have now conducted dozens of studies to calculate the infection fatality rate of Covid-19.
That research—examining deaths out of the total number of infections, which includes unreported cases—suggests that Covid-19 kills from around 0.3% to 1.5% of people infected. Most studies put the rate between 0.5% and 1.0%, meaning that for every 1,000 people who get infected, from five to 10 would die on average.
The estimates suggest the new coronavirus is deadlier than the seasonal flu, though not as lethal as Ebola and other infectious diseases that have emerged in recent years. The coronavirus is killing more people than the deadlier diseases, however, in part because it is more infectious.
More than 14.7 million people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 across the globe, and over 609,000 people have died, with nearly a quarter of the fatalities in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That means that among confirmed global cases, roughly 4.2% of those people died.
The percentage of deaths among people with confirmed infections is higher than the percentage of deaths among infections overall, researchers say, because so many milder and asymptomatic Covid-19 cases go missed.