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New CDC data on COVID-19

Montreal, May 25, 2020 – The national American agency in charge of public health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has revised the COVID-19 mortality rate downward. This organization, which has an excellent international reputation, is overseen by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

A lower mortality rate than predicted

“The most likely CDC scenario now estimates that the coronavirus mortality rate for infected people is between 0.2% and 0.3%. This is a far cry from the 3.4% figure that had been put forward by the WHO at the start of the pandemic,” states Peter St. Onge, Senior Fellow at the Montreal Economic Institute. “While these data are from the United States, it’s reasonable to think that the situation is similar in Canada,” adds the researcher.

Indeed, according to the researcher, the case of the United States is likely indicative of the situation in Canada. “When you look at statistics compiled by reliable sources like Johns Hopkins University, you see that the curves for Canada and the United States follow similar trends in terms of numbers of deaths per thousand population. Canada has a lower total death rate from COVID-19 than the US, but it also conducts less testing, and therefore has a higher apparent mortality per case than the US,” says Mr. St. Onge.

“As more precise data becomes available, with more tests for example, a clearer picture of the situation emerges,” points out Mr. St. Onge. “According to the CDC’s latest data, 35% of people infected with COVID-19 show no symptoms, although they do remain contagious.”

Outdoor gatherings

“If the mortality rate really is 10 or 20 times lower than initially projected, the visceral reactions of certain politicians to the fact that people in Toronto and Montreal are spending time in parks seems completely disproportionate,” says Peter St. Onge. “After all, the data so far are clear: The likelihood of becoming infected with the virus outdoors is extremely low.”

Sound public policies

According to Gaël Campan, Senior Economist at the Montreal Economic Institute, a proper understanding of the virus is crucial to the development of health measures. “Although we still don’t have all the answers, we must analyze the costs and benefits of the mandatory lockdown of the whole population when we’re basically trying to protect a relatively well-defined minority mostly made up of seniors. The experience of several countries shows us that we can achieve good results through a combination of much more targeted measures,” concludes Mr. Campan.

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policy-makers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship.


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