Modeling the change in European and US COVID-19 death rates

Zeina S. Khan, Frank Van Bussel, Fazle Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Motivated by several possible differences in Covid-19 virus strains, age demographics, and face mask wearing between continents and countries, we focussed on changes in Covid death rates in 2020. We have extended our Covid-19 multicompartment model (Khan et al., 2020) to fit cumulative case and death data for 49 European countries and 52 US states and territories during the recent pandemic, and found that the case mortality rate had decreased by at least 80% in most of the US and at least 90% in most of Europe. We found that death rate decreases do not have strong correlations to other model parameters (such as contact rate) or other standard state/national metrics such as population density, GDP, and median age. Almost all the decreases occurred between mid-April and mid-June 2020, which corresponds to the time when many state and national lockdowns were relaxed resulting in surges of new cases. We examine here several plausible causes for this drop—improvements in treatment, face mask wearing, new virus strains, testing, potentially changing demographics of infected patients, and changes in data collection and reporting—but none of their effects are as significant as the death rate changes suggest. In conclusion, this work shows that a two death rate model is effective in quantifying the reported drop in death rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0268332
Pages (from-to)e0268332
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Humans
  • Masks
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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