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In March, Andrew Atkeson, an economics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, tried to assess the mortality rate from the new coronavirus based on what is known about its spread.
Does it kill 1 percent of those infected, roughly the case fatality rate on the Diamond Princess cruise ship? Or might it be closer to 0.1 percent, the mortality rate in the United States from the common flu?
If two-thirds of the population becomes infected, as would be needed to achieve what is known as “herd immunity,” the difference between those mortality rates would amount to two million deaths nationwide.