Severity and Case Fatality Rates of COVID-19: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis and an Exploratory Meta-Regression of Risk Factors
38 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2020More...
Background: Estimating the prevalence of severe or critical illness and case fatality of COVID-19 outbreak in December, 2019 remains a challenge due to biases associated with surveillance, data synthesis and reporting. We aimed to address this limitation in a systematic review and meta-analysis and to examine the clinical, biochemical and radiological risk factors in a meta-regression.
Methods: PRISMA guidelines were followed. PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science were searched using pre-specified keywords on March 07, 2020. Peer-reviewed empirical studies examining prevalence rates of severe illness, critical illness and mortality among COVID-19 patients were examined. Numerators and denominators to compute the prevalence rates and risk factors were extracted. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed. Results were corrected for publication bias. Meta-regression analyses examined the moderator effects of potential risk factors.
Findings: The meta-analysis included 29 studies representing 2,090 individuals. Pooled rates of severe illness, critical illness and case fatality among COVID-19 patients were 15%, 5% and 0.8% respectively. Adjusting for potential underreporting and publication bias, increased these estimates to 26%, 16% and 7.4% respectively. Increasing age and elevated LDH consistently predicted severe / critical disease and case fatality. Hypertension; fever and dyspnea at presentation; and elevated CRP predicted increased severity.
Interpretation: Risk factors that emerged in our analyses predicting severity and case fatality should inform clinicians to define endophenotypes possessing a greater risk. Estimated case fatality rate of 7.4% after correcting for publication bias underscores the importance of strict adherence to preventive measures, case detection, surveillance and reporting.
Funding Statement: None
Declaration of Interests: The authors declare no competing interests.
Keywords: COVID-19; Mortality; Case fatality; Systematic review; Meta-analysis; Metaregression
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