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What is known about the clinical severity of COVID-19?

When infected with COVID-19, some people may exhibit no or minor symptoms, while others may become very sick, or even die. The severity of the virus ranges from person to person. Older people and people with preexisting health issues such as heart and lung disease have had a higher risk of developing more severe COVID-19 illnesses.

A large World Health Organization study of nearly 56,000 confirmed cases in China showed that about 80% of cases were mild to moderate, while 14% were severe and 6% were critical. Critical cases exhibited respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction/failure.

As of April 6, around 5.5% of reported COVID-19 cases (globally) had died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills about 0.1% of those infected on average. The current mortality for known cases of COVID-19 is about 1.8% in South Korea and 1.6% in Germany, countries where there has been widespread testing. For the most recent counts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries, visit this dashboard.

Drafted: 6 April 2020