Update (3/17): When we initially published this article on March 3rd, our estimate for the new coronavirus’ fatality rate was 0.5%. Today, we increased our point estimate to 0.66%. This means you need to multiply all of our probability estimates below by approximately 1.3. So, according to our latest calculations, there is a 4.3% chance that an infected person between the ages of 70 and 79 will die from COVID-19. If you are above the age of 80, this probability increases to 7%.
President Donald Trump has a 3.3% chance of dying from the new coronavirus. Bernie Senders, Joe Biden, and Michael Bloomberg also have a 3.3% chance of dying from COVID-19. There is also a 12.9% probability that at least one of these 4 presidential candidates will die because of the coronavirus in the next 12 months. Additionally, SCOTUS could get remade simply because of the octogenarians and septuagenarians on it. I’m rounding Samuel Alito’s age to 70.
I have a PhD in financial economics. I usually analyze financial statements, SEC filings, and insider transactions to come up with the best stock ideas. I share my personal stock picks in Insider Monkey’s monthly activist newsletter. I have been sharing my stock picks for the last 3 years. My portfolio of stock picks returned a cumulative 72.9% during this period. S&P 500 ETFs returned 31.8% during the same period. This is how I put bread on the table. So, if you are looking to subscribe to an investment newsletter with a strong track record that will tell when and which stocks to buy and sell, please check out a sample issue of our monthly newsletter.
For the past couple of weeks I have been researching about the social, economic, and financial implications of the new coronavirus pandemic. I don’t need WHO’s stamp of approval to call this a pandemic, because my calculations indicate that COVID-19 will kill around 5 million people worldwide over the next 12 months.
The first question I tackled was the new coronavirus’ fatality rate. Today WHO announced a 3.4% “crude estimate” and China’s case fatality rate indicate a 2%-4% figure, but almost everyone agrees that this is an overestimation of the actual fatality rate because the true number of infections is much higher than the “confirmed infections” within China. I don’t want to get into the details of my analysis (click this link for details) here. Currently, I estimate that the new coronavirus’ actual fatality rate is somewhere between 0.2% and 0.5%. In my calculations I will use 0.5% as the actual fatality rate. We can do a sensitivity analysis later on.
We now have actual evidence that the new coronavirus disproportionately affects older people. So, in this article I will try to estimate the new coronavirus’ actual fatality rate for each age group. China’s CDC published the raw figures for a sample size of nearly 45000 confirmed cases and estimated that the new coronavirus’ fatality rate for the 80+ age group is 14.8%, 70-79 age group is 8%, 60-69 age group is 3.6%, and 50-59 age group is 1.3%.
Don’t let these numbers scare you. Like China’s coronavirus case fatality rate, they are way overestimated. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese people who were infected with the new coronavirus weren’t tested because they showed very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. We don’t know the true number of these people or their age distribution, but we can make educated guesses.
The first assumption I am going to make is that every single age group have the same probability of getting the virus. Trust me, this is a much better assumption than using the case distributions. For example, less than 1% of all Chinese confirmed cases are from the 0-9 age group, whereas 12% of China’s population is children under the age of 10. We know that children are more likely than adults to get infectious diseases because they have poor hygiene practices (i.e they cough on each other, spray their toys with viruses, share those toys and put them in their mouths). So, our assumption of identical infection rates for all age groups is a vast improvement over China’s case infection rates for each age group.
The second assumption I am going to make is that the actual fatality rate for COVID-19 is 0.5%. This is nearly 5 times smaller than China’s case fatality rate, but again much closer to reality than what China’s CDC used.
By using these two assumptions, I estimated the “true” number of infections for each age group and then calculated the fatality rate. Here is the great news. If you are younger than 40 years old, the new coronavirus’ fatality rate for you is similar to the seasonal flu. You shouldn’t worry about dying for it, but you should worry about infected someone older. Check out the table below for the estimated fatality rates for each age group.
Here is the bad news. If you are 80 years or older and infected with the new coronavirus, there is a 1 in 18 chance that you are going to die. The last time we had a pandemic, around 20% of the US population was infected within the first 12 months. if we have a similar infection rate for the new coronavirus, around 1% of all people above 80 years old will die from coronavirus over the next 12 months.
On the next page I will share what these figures mean for Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and other important people who are shaping the policies that affect everyone.