Infectious disease specialists and health experts say that while the number of cases of the new coronavirus will likely continue to grow in the United States, the current case fatality rate appears to be an overestimation.
“It disproportionately includes elderly patients with medical conditions and not anyone who was untested and recovered fully,” Scholtz, an infectious disease physician, said.
The outbreak of the virus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. A number of U.S. states across the country have also declared public emergencies over the virus.
“As of March 10, there are 754 cases and 28 deaths from coronavirus in the United States, making the mortality rate 3.7 percent,” she told The Epoch Times via email. “However, this number does not account for asymptomatic and undiagnosed cases, so the true mortality rate is probably much lower.
“Mortality rate estimates will become more accurate as more data is collected on mild, moderate, and severe cases of coronavirus.”
On March 11, the numbers have already shifted in this direction, with 1,135 reported cases and 32 deaths, giving a mortality rate of 2.8.
“They don’t know about the easy cases, because the easy cases don’t go to the hospital. They don’t report to doctors or the hospital in many cases. So I think that that number is very high,” Trump said. ”Personally, I would say the [mortality rate] is way under 1 percent.”
Scholtz said the coronavirus doesn’t appear to be very deadly “when compared with SARS and MERS, which had a mortality rate of about 9 percent and 34 percent, respectively.” But he said cases in the United States will continue to rise, “and probably more steeply in the coming weeks or months,” citing “increased availability of testing rather than an actual increase in infections.”
“As we gather more information about the total number of cases, my suspicion is that we will find this virus to be less deadly than currently thought,” Scholtz said.
“I do not think that the mortality from this will increase in the United States, and on the contrary, I expect that it will decrease as people present earlier and treatment becomes more standardized.”
“More than 80 percent of cases result in very mild symptoms, which don’t require interaction with the health care system or hospital care,” he told The Epoch Times.
Flu ComparisonDr. Rishi Desai, a former epidemic intelligence service officer at the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases, told The Epoch Times that the most concerning difference between coronavirus and the flu is “how quickly COVID-19 spreads and its mortality rate.”
Desai didn’t dispute the official U.S. mortality rate.
“COVID-19’s R-naught is around 2.3, which means that for every one person that gets sick, 2.3 people will be infected,” Desai said via email. R-naught is also referred to as the basic reproduction number.
“During a bad flu season, influenza has an R-naught of 1.3 and a mortality rate of 0.1 percent,” he said.
Influenza also has vaccines that have 50 to 60 percent vaccine efficacy “and can be treated with medications like Oseltamivir,” Desai said, adding that the coronavirus has no vaccine, and a vaccine isn’t likely to be available for quite some time. Top U.S. officials have publicly stated that a vaccine could likely be developed by the end of the year or early next year.
The predominant way the virus spreads is when it is flung from one person to another as they “cough or sneeze,” Desai said. He said the most likely way a person can get infected is through the eyes, nose, and mouth, adding that if those areas were touched less, the risk is “significantly lower.”
Scholtz added that influenza can also be quite severe for young healthy persons.
While the coronavirus and influenza are both respiratory illnesses that are contagious and transmitted in a similar way—through droplets containing the virus—Ferraro said that “coronavirus may also spread through airborne transmission, which means the virus may remain in tiny droplets in the air even when the infected person is no longer near.”
Elderly and vulnerable Americans should travel less and avoid large groups of people, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on March 8.
Fauci said while authorities are getting a “better sense” of the scope of the outbreak, “unfortunately, that better sense is not encouraging, because we’re seeing community spread.”