There is a big difference in COVID-19 death rates across countries. At first glance the Germans, with a death rate of 0.67%, seem to be fairing much better when they catch Coronavirus than those in Italy (11%). Why is this, and could looking at these figures give an idea of how many Italians have really been infected by the virus?
The truth is to do with the volume of testing. Since near the start the Germans have had the capacity to test 160,000 people per week at recently announced they had ramped this up to 500,000 people per week (whilst in the UK we are aiming for 175,000 but still have a way to go). The Italians tested very little early on, and are still only really testing those who get very sick.
So, if we make the generous assumption that everyone with symptoms in Germany is getting tested (and they probably aren’t as many only have very mild symptoms), and we assume that the death rate in Italy is the same as in Germany (it may be worse as the hospitals can’t now treat everyone) then the total population of infected in Italy might be closer to 1,360,000 (or 2% of Italy’s total population), rather than the 86,498 that have been found positive from testing.
So, that’s quite scary.