Interpreting SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence, deaths, and fatality rate: Making a case for standardized reporting to improve communication

Abstract

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread across the world, testing each nation’s ability to understand the state of the pandemic in their country and control it. As we looked into the epidemiological data to uncover the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we discovered that critical metadata is missing which is meant to give context to epidemiological parameters. In this perspective, we identify key metadata for the COVID-19 fatality rate after a thorough analysis of mathematical models, serology-informed studies and determinants of causes of death for the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, we find reasons to establish a set of standard-based guidelines to record and report the data from epidemiological studies. Additionally, we discuss why standardizing nomenclature is be a necessary component of these guidelines to improve communication and reproducibility. The goal of establishing these guidelines is to facilitate the interpretation of COVID-19 epidemiological findings and data by the general public, health officials, policymakers and fellow researchers. Our suggestions may not address all aspects of this issue; rather, they are meant to be the foundation for which experts can establish and encourage future guidelines throughout the appropriate communities.