Iceland's great news about the coronavirus fatality rate

Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík, Iceland

Iceland is one country that is doing the kind of widespread testing that is necessary to more accurately determine how many people risk dying from the coronavirus infection. And the news is hopeful.

Because of its small population of 364,000, Iceland engaged in large-scale testing, testing that would capture important facts that other nations, their scientists and policy makers can't do: Find out what percentage of the population gets infected, how many of the infected become seriously ill and, most important, how many die. So far, most testing carried out by other nations such as the United States, haven't captured reliable data about the effects of the virus on the widespread population.

Thorolfur Guðnason, Iceland's chief epidemiologist reported the encouraging results:

Early results from deCode Genetics indicate that a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic. The other half displays very moderate cold-like symptoms.

To perhaps oversimplify:

Iceland's testing provides better information about the actual prevalence of the virus in the nation. Early results estimated the disease prevalence of just over 1 percent, which is on the lower end of the estimated rates for most nations.

With two recorded deaths as of this writing, the death rate of those diagnosed with the virus, the death rate is 0.19, according to Iceland's statistical website.  That's way below the death rates predicted for the United States and the rest of the world.

Even more important is the death rate of all those who were sampled: 0.013. That bears 0.013.

Iceland is unique in its culture, climate and other factors, so such comparisons can be questioned. But its comprehensive testing program presents new and encouraging facts that clearly require major attention.

Which it has not received.

Correction: An earlier version had incorrect percentages. 

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812


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  • Important information to consider.

    Without knowing the denominator it is impossible to know the death rate. Testing in Iceland and in S. Korea gives us all a better idea.

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