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Vivek Goel's COVID-19 podcast (Ep. 3): Why does the death rate appear so different across countries?

With countries around the world reporting COVID-19 death rates anywhere from 0.1 per cent to 10 per cent, Canadians are no doubt asking: How deadly is this virus?

“The first thing we learn in epidemiology, when we see such dramatically different numbers, is to check the data,” says Dr. Vivek Goel, the University of Toronto’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives, and a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

COVID-19: What’s Next is a bi-weekly podcast created by Goel in collaboration with a University of Toronto Communications team led by producer Lisa Lightbourn.

In episode three, Goel – a renowned public health expert and founding head of Public Health Ontario, which was set up in response to the 2003 SARS outbreak – explains why differences in testing rates and in the overall health of populations cause the reported COVID-19 death rate to vary so widely.

“The key thing to remember is the death rate in people that are healthy is quite low, well below one per cent,” Goel says.

Note: The information in this podcast is current as of the posting date. Listeners should consult their local public health agency for the latest information in their jurisdiction.

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