It has been almost three months since the Wuhan coronavirus, now known officially as COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, China. This novel coronavirus is the latest candidate to be the next major pandemic. We’ve learned a lot about COVID-19 in that time, and unfortunately, there is still so much we don’t know.
One thing that has becoming impossible to ignore, however, is that this not a drill.
Like all outbreaks, it’s impossible to know for sure if any particular one will become the next deadly, global pandemic until it either happens or doesn’t happen.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is shaping into what appears to be the one that folks will be reading about in a hundred years in the same way we look back in history at the Spanish flu.
What We Thought We Knew
When the first cluster of 41 patients was identified in early December 2019 in Wuhan, China, early data suggested that the virus was only of real concern to the elderly, infirm, and those with comorbidities, such as diabetes and heart disease.
These would be standard expectations of a viral respiratory illness, similar to the flu. However, further inspection of that cluster only showed about half with serious illness fit that profile, meaning the other half who sought hospital care were younger, presumably healthier adults.
This novel coronavirus also had an early reported case fatality rate of about 2%, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). A mortality rate of 2% is concerning, but not all that alarming. It’s a little higher than the typical influenza case fatality rate. But, it wasn’t close to the case fatality rate of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), another coronavirus that can be fatal to humans and has a case fatality rate of 34.4%.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…