Death rates from the novel coronavirus are lower in hot spots around the world, even as new infections accelerate in what may be the pandemic’s next wave. Scientists are confident the change is real, but the reasons for it — and whether it will last — are a matter of intense debate.
“Is this a trend or a blip?” asked Joshua Barocas, an infectious-disease specialist at the Boston University School of Medicine. “Nobody really knows.”
The mortality rate of the coronavirus has been a moving target since the outbreak began.
Early reports out of China put it as high as 7 percent. But that was based mostly on hospitalized patients, and by the time the wave hit the United States, epidemiologists believed it was closer to 2 to 3 percent. Now, factoring in asymptomatic infections, as well as mild cases that might not be part of official tallies, the Centers