The study, published Thursday in the journal Nature Medicine, calculated that people with coronavirus symptoms in Wuhan, China, had a 1.4 percent likelihood of dying. Some previous estimates have ranged from 2 percent to 3.4 percent.

Assessing the risk of death in Wuhan is instructive because it provides a snapshot of the epidemic from the beginning, when doctors were scrambling to treat people with the brand-new virus and hospitals were overwhelmed. Some experts say that such a benchmark — known as the symptomatic case fatality rate — could be lower in countries like the United States if measures like widespread business and school closures and appeals for social distancing have the desired effect of slowing the spread of the disease.