Estimated Disease Burden of COVID-19

Estimated Disease Burden of COVID-19

To better reflect the burden of COVID-19 – the full impact of the disease — CDC provides estimates of COVID-19 infections, symptomatic illnesses, and hospitalizations using a statistical model to adjust for cases that national surveillance networks are unable to capture for a number of reasons. These estimates and the methodology used to calculate them are published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available onlineexternal icon. These estimates will be updated periodically.

Estimated COVID-19 Infections, Symptomatic Illnesses, and Hospitalizations—United States

CDC estimates that from February–December 2020:

1 in 1.9 (95% UI* 1.7 - 2.2) COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported
1 in 4.2 (95% UI* 3.7 – 4.7) COVID–19 symptomatic illnesses were reported
1 in 4.6 (95% UI* 4.0 – 5.4) total COVID–19 infections were reported

These estimates suggest that during that period, there were approximately:

83.1 Million

Estimated Total Infections

70.4 Million

Estimated Symptomatic Illnesses

4.1 Million

Estimated Hospitalizations

Last Updated: January 15, 2021

* Since the previous update, CDC has received additional data about the proportion of persons with symptomatic illness who seek medical attention or COVID-19 testing services, one of the sources of under-detection accounted for in these estimates. These updated data indicated higher levels of health-seeking behavior than data included in our previous estimates. The higher values of health-seeking behavior result in lower estimates of infections, symptomatic illnesses, and hospitalizations than previously reported. CDC will continue to update these preliminary estimates as additional data become available and improve our understanding of the detection and reporting of COVID-19..

Table 1: Preliminary Estimated COVID-19 Cumulative Incidence, by age group — United States, February-December 2020
Infections Symptomatic Illness Hospitalizations
Age group Estimate 95% UI* Estimate 95% UI* Estimate 95% UI*
0-4 yrs 3,001,623 2,521,479 –
3,603,759
2,558,307 2,278,108 –
2,906,556
37,230 30,699 –
44,730
5-17 yrs 14,550,829 12,209,186 –
17,452,081
12,403,731 11,034,478 –
14,117,103
100,007 79,372 –
124,320
18-49 yrs 41,940,215 35,078,060 –
50,555,701
35,787,079 31,531,715 –
40,807,745
1,063,736 900,113 –
1,271,347
50-64 yrs 14,447,134 12,089,524 –
17,383,362
12,321,758 10,882,714 –
14,055,391
1,018,159 896,371 –
1,162,730
65+ yrs 9,039,683 7,276,479 –
11,399,503
7,327,183 6,503,774 –
8,324,056
1,883,794 1,656,765 –
2,163,710
All ages 83,111,629 71,639,264 –
97,219,850
70,421,695 63,136,089 –
79,082,817
4,101,022 3,657,416 –
4,654,724

* Adjusted estimates and rates are presented in two parts: an uncertainty interval [UI] and a point estimate. The uncertainty interval provides a range in which the true number or rate of COVID-19 infections, symptomatic illnesses, or hospitalization would be expected to fall if the same study was repeated many times, and it gives an idea of the precision of the point estimate. A 95% uncertainty interval means that if the study were repeated 100 times, then 95 out of 100 times the uncertainty interval would contain the true point estimate. Conversely, in only 5 times out of a 100 would the uncertainty interval not contain the true point estimate.

Table 2: Estimated rates of COVID-19 disease outcomes, per 100,000, by age group — United States, February-December 2020
Infection rate per 100,000 Symptomatic Illness rate per 100,000 Hospitalization rate per 100,000
Age group Estimate 95% UI* Estimate 95% UI* Estimate 95% UI*
0-4 yrs 15,333 12,880 – 18,408 13,068 11,637 – 14,847 190 157 – 228
5-17 yrs 27,218 22,837 – 32,644 23,201 20,640 – 26,406 187 148 – 233
18-49 yrs 30,602 25,595 – 36,888 26,112 23,007 – 29,776 776 657 – 928
50-64 yrs 22,966 19,218 – 27,634 19,588 17,300 – 22,343 1,619 1,425 – 1,848
65+ yrs 16,722 13,460 – 21,087 13,554 12,031 – 15,398 3,485 3,065 – 4,003
All ages 25,412 21,905 – 29,726 21,532 19,305 – 24,180 1,254 1,118 – 1,423

* Adjusted estimates and rates are presented in two parts: an uncertainty interval [UI] and a point estimate. The uncertainty interval provides a range in which the true number or rate of COVID-19 infections, symptomatic illnesses, or hospitalization would be expected to fall if the same study was repeated many times, and it gives an idea of the precision of the point estimate. A 95% uncertainty interval means that if the study were repeated 100 times, then 95 out of 100 times the uncertainty interval would contain the true point estimate. Conversely, in only 5 times out of a 100 would the uncertainty interval not contain the true point estimate.

Percentage of COVID-19 infections, symptomatic illness, and hospitalizations by age group