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      Estimating age-specific COVID-19 fatality risk and time to death by comparing population diagnosis and death patterns: Australian data

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          Abstract

          Background

          Mortality is a key component of the natural history of COVID-19 infection. Surveillance data on COVID-19 deaths and case diagnoses are widely available in the public domain, but they are not used to model time to death because they typically do not link diagnosis and death at an individual level. This paper demonstrates that by comparing the unlinked patterns of new diagnoses and deaths over age and time, age-specific mortality and time to death may be estimated using a statistical method called deconvolution.

          Methods

          Age-specific data were analysed on 816 deaths among 6235 cases over age 50 years in Victoria, Australia, from the period January through December 2020. Deconvolution was applied assuming logistic dependence of case fatality risk (CFR) on age and a gamma time to death distribution. Non-parametric deconvolution analyses stratified into separate age groups were used to assess the model assumptions.

          Results

          It was found that age-specific CFR rose from 2.9% at age 65 years (95% CI:2.2 – 3.5) to 40.0% at age 95 years (CI: 36.6 – 43.6). The estimated mean time between diagnosis and death was 18.1 days (CI: 16.9 – 19.3) and showed no evidence of varying by age (heterogeneity P = 0.97). The estimated 90% percentile of time to death was 33.3 days (CI: 30.4 – 36.3; heterogeneity P = 0.85). The final age-specific model provided a good fit to the observed age-stratified mortality patterns.

          Conclusions

          Deconvolution was demonstrated to be a powerful analysis method that could be applied to extensive data sources worldwide. Such analyses can inform transmission dynamics models and CFR assessment in emerging outbreaks. Based on these Australian data it is concluded that death from COVID-19 occurs within three weeks of diagnosis on average but takes five weeks in 10% of fatal cases. Fatality risk is negligible in the young but rises above 40% in the elderly, while time to death does not seem to vary by age.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s12874-021-01314-w.

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          Most cited references26

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          Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis

          Summary Background In the face of rapidly changing data, a range of case fatality ratio estimates for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been produced that differ substantially in magnitude. We aimed to provide robust estimates, accounting for censoring and ascertainment biases. Methods We collected individual-case data for patients who died from COVID-19 in Hubei, mainland China (reported by national and provincial health commissions to Feb 8, 2020), and for cases outside of mainland China (from government or ministry of health websites and media reports for 37 countries, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, until Feb 25, 2020). These individual-case data were used to estimate the time between onset of symptoms and outcome (death or discharge from hospital). We next obtained age-stratified estimates of the case fatality ratio by relating the aggregate distribution of cases to the observed cumulative deaths in China, assuming a constant attack rate by age and adjusting for demography and age-based and location-based under-ascertainment. We also estimated the case fatality ratio from individual line-list data on 1334 cases identified outside of mainland China. Using data on the prevalence of PCR-confirmed cases in international residents repatriated from China, we obtained age-stratified estimates of the infection fatality ratio. Furthermore, data on age-stratified severity in a subset of 3665 cases from China were used to estimate the proportion of infected individuals who are likely to require hospitalisation. Findings Using data on 24 deaths that occurred in mainland China and 165 recoveries outside of China, we estimated the mean duration from onset of symptoms to death to be 17·8 days (95% credible interval [CrI] 16·9–19·2) and to hospital discharge to be 24·7 days (22·9–28·1). In all laboratory confirmed and clinically diagnosed cases from mainland China (n=70 117), we estimated a crude case fatality ratio (adjusted for censoring) of 3·67% (95% CrI 3·56–3·80). However, after further adjusting for demography and under-ascertainment, we obtained a best estimate of the case fatality ratio in China of 1·38% (1·23–1·53), with substantially higher ratios in older age groups (0·32% [0·27–0·38] in those aged <60 years vs 6·4% [5·7–7·2] in those aged ≥60 years), up to 13·4% (11·2–15·9) in those aged 80 years or older. Estimates of case fatality ratio from international cases stratified by age were consistent with those from China (parametric estimate 1·4% [0·4–3·5] in those aged <60 years [n=360] and 4·5% [1·8–11·1] in those aged ≥60 years [n=151]). Our estimated overall infection fatality ratio for China was 0·66% (0·39–1·33), with an increasing profile with age. Similarly, estimates of the proportion of infected individuals likely to be hospitalised increased with age up to a maximum of 18·4% (11·0–7·6) in those aged 80 years or older. Interpretation These early estimates give an indication of the fatality ratio across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease and show a strong age gradient in risk of death. Funding UK Medical Research Council.
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            Incubation Period and Other Epidemiological Characteristics of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Infections with Right Truncation: A Statistical Analysis of Publicly Available Case Data

            The geographic spread of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections from the epicenter of Wuhan, China, has provided an opportunity to study the natural history of the recently emerged virus. Using publicly available event-date data from the ongoing epidemic, the present study investigated the incubation period and other time intervals that govern the epidemiological dynamics of COVID-19 infections. Our results show that the incubation period falls within the range of 2–14 days with 95% confidence and has a mean of around 5 days when approximated using the best-fit lognormal distribution. The mean time from illness onset to hospital admission (for treatment and/or isolation) was estimated at 3–4 days without truncation and at 5–9 days when right truncated. Based on the 95th percentile estimate of the incubation period, we recommend that the length of quarantine should be at least 14 days. The median time delay of 13 days from illness onset to death (17 days with right truncation) should be considered when estimating the COVID-19 case fatality risk.
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              Estimating clinical severity of COVID-19 from the transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China

              As of 29 February 2020 there were 79,394 confirmed cases and 2,838 deaths from COVID-19 in mainland China. Of these, 48,557 cases and 2,169 deaths occurred in the epicenter, Wuhan. A key public health priority during the emergence of a novel pathogen is estimating clinical severity, which requires properly adjusting for the case ascertainment rate and the delay between symptoms onset and death. Using public and published information, we estimate that the overall symptomatic case fatality risk (the probability of dying after developing symptoms) of COVID-19 in Wuhan was 1.4% (0.9–2.1%), which is substantially lower than both the corresponding crude or naïve confirmed case fatality risk (2,169/48,557 = 4.5%) and the approximator 1 of deaths/deaths + recoveries (2,169/2,169 + 17,572 = 11%) as of 29 February 2020. Compared to those aged 30–59 years, those aged below 30 and above 59 years were 0.6 (0.3–1.1) and 5.1 (4.2–6.1) times more likely to die after developing symptoms. The risk of symptomatic infection increased with age (for example, at ~4% per year among adults aged 30–60 years).
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                ian.marschner@sydney.edu.au
                Journal
                BMC Med Res Methodol
                BMC Med Res Methodol
                BMC Medical Research Methodology
                BioMed Central (London )
                1471-2288
                21 June 2021
                21 June 2021
                2021
                : 21
                : 126
                Affiliations
                GRID grid.1013.3, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 834X, Trials Centre, , National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre, The University of Sydney, ; Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia
                Article
                1314
                10.1186/s12874-021-01314-w
                8215490
                34154563
                0e486ad1-6a69-4d7c-bc8c-759661c79da7
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                History
                : 1 February 2021
                : 10 May 2021
                Categories
                Research
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Medicine
                age-specific incidence,case fatality,covid-19,deconvolution,mortality,surveillance data
                Medicine
                age-specific incidence, case fatality, covid-19, deconvolution, mortality, surveillance data

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