How deadly is Covid-19?

Making sense of the coronavirus death toll.

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There are two ways you could assess the deadliness of a crisis like the novel coronavirus pandemic. One is to ask, “How many people are dying?” And the other is to ask, “What is the risk of dying if you contract the virus?” For months, public health officials were unable to fully answer either of those questions.

Now, with death certificates and antibody-survey data coming in, we’re slowly getting a better picture of Covid-19 mortality. As we explain in this video, that picture is of a disease that’s killing more people than we knew, but a lower percentage of those infected. Most places are looking at a higher death count and lower death rate than previously reported.

But the biggest challenge in assessing a tragedy like this is that we’re still inside it — and nobody can predict how many lives will be lost before it ends.

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