A pair of public health experts from Stanford, Drs. Eran Bendavid and Jay Bhattacharya, warn Americans in a Wall Street Journal editorial that the current estimates about the coronavirus' fatality rate may be too high by "orders of magnitude."
The two professors argue that the best evidence of the coronavirus death rate being significantly lower than what is being reported may lie in the Italian town of Vò. On March 6, the town's 3,300 residents were tested. Of these, 90 tests came back positive, indicating a prevalence of 2.7% of the population having the virus.
If one were to apply this to the entire province where the town is located, which has a population of 955,000, it would mean there were actually 26,000 infections at the time, and not just the 198 that were officially confirmed. This would be 130 times greater than the number of reported cases. Since Italy's case fatality rate of 8% is estimated using the confirmed cases, Bendavid and Bhattacharya write, "the real fatality rate [of the virus] could in fact be closer to 0.06%."
Existing evidence suggests that the virus is highly transmissible and that the number of infections doubles roughly every three days. An epidemic seed on Jan. 1 implies that by March 9 about six million people in the U.S. would have been infected. As of March 23, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 499 Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. If our surmise of six million cases is accurate, that's a mortality rate of 0.01%, assuming a two week lag between infection and death. This is one-tenth of the flu mortality rate of 0.1%. Such a low death rate would be cause for optimism.
Unfortunately, these are the voices of reason that are doomed to remain "unconventional", and thus largely unheard.