COVID19: What do recovery rates tell us?

Yesterday, March 26, 2020, I decided to play around with the numbers on the Corona Virus ‘Worldometer’ site ( My intention was to detect how long we will have to further stay in lockdown. Beyond the basic answer, which is “as long as it takes to beat Corona through lockdown procedures or an antidote”, I looked at the recovery rates in infected countries. What I did is that I chose a random sample of countries, focusing on those that have a low recovery rate and others that have a relatively higher than usual recovery rate. I then compared the recovery rate with the date the first Corona Virus case was detected, to see if there is a trend or an estimated number of days that can be associated with the recovery. Unfortunately, I could detect none. For sure, there are so many variables that play a role in the speed of recovery, perhaps the most obvious of which is the age of patients, in addition to the quality of medical attention that patients are getting.

Still, although I could not find an answer to when we will be released from home again, I noticed some interesting numbers related to the rate of recovery among the sample of countries I chose, and here’s some of the insights:

1- China has the highest recovery rate at 91% after 87 days of detecting the first case.

2- Bahrain comes second in the recovery rate, where 190 out of the 419 patients did recover (45% recovery rate). What is very interesting about the case of Bahrain though is that it managed to reach this recovery rate within 31 days of detecting its first case on February 24, 2020.

3- Three days differ between the detection of the first case in Canada (February 1, 2020), and that in Belgium (February 4, 2020), however interesting enough is that out of the 3,409 patients in Canada only 185 recovered, whereas out of the 4,937 patients in Belgium 547 had recovered. In other terms the recovery rate in Canada so far is 5.43% as compared to 11.08% in Belgium.

4- The recovery rate in UAE, which had its first case in February 1, 2020 is 15% (52 recovered out of 333); with the impression we have about UAE, a 15% recovery rate after 54 days of detecting the first case, seems to be a bit humble.

5- What applies to UAE also works for Japan. After 70 days of detecting the first case, Japan’s recovery rate is 23.72% (310 recovered out of 1,307), something that one would also have expected to be higher from a developed country like Japan!

6- Lebanon’s recovery rate rests at 5.43% (20 recovered out of 368) after 34 days of detecting the first case. Although the rate seems low, but when compared to the number of days since the first case detection, it sounds logical. Still, if the rate of new cases keep on increasing, the current recovery rate would become alarming.

7- A major surprise in the numbers around recovery is Switzerland. With 10,897 cases out of which only 131 recovering (1.2% recovery rate) since February 25, 2020, Switzerland is giving a gloomy impression.

8- The most greatly alarming number is that of the USA. After 66 days (January 20, 2020) of detecting the first case in the US, only 394 recovered out of 68,489 patients. For a global power like the USA, a 0.58% recovery rate is a black point in its medical history and system.

9- Compared to South Korea, France also seems to be lagging behind despite the relatively large number of people who recovered. In South Korea, 4,144 recovered out of 9,241 patients (44.84% recovery rate), compared to 3,900 recoveries in France out of 25,233 patients (15.46% recovery rate), noting that South Korea detected its first case on January 20, 2020, whereas France detected its first case on January 24, 2020, a slight difference of only 4 days.

10- Another surprise are the numbers of Sweden. Although the number of patients is not extremely high, the recovery rate (given the impression one has about Sweden) is very humble. Only 16 recovered out of 2,526, and that is 55 days after the detection of the first case on January 31, 2020. Also interesting to see is the low recovery rate in a developed country like Austria where only 9 people out of 5,888 patients recovered since discovering the first case 30 days ago (February 25, 2020)

The above is just a diagonal reading of the numbers and not a hardcore statistical crunching. However, the numbers do tell us that it is tough to detect a trend about the recovery dynamics if we do not look into more variables that could be associated with each country. Meanwhile, please stay home and stay safe.

Charles S. Saliba
Organizational & HR Expert, Writer & Researcher on Leadership & Organizational Behavior,
President of the Lebanese Consultants Association
CEO of HR Works s.a.l |