Is COVID-19 less deadly than coronaviruses in 2002 and 2012?

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe rapidly, we keep seeing more and more “bad news” daily – empty store shelves, businesses losing profits, people losing their jobs while forced to be in isolation… We at LIVEfeed see it as our journalistic duty to bring you all the facts on the disease and also cover the possible solutions. So, below is a summary of how COVID-19 is compared to two previous coronaviruses.

2002: SARS-CoV | Mortality rate: 10%

8,098 infected | 774 deaths

Neither coronaviruses nor their outbreaks are entirely new. In November 2002, a coronavirus named SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) broke out in Foshan, China, and spread across the world in 2003. A total of 8,098 people worldwide became infected, out of which 774 died. However, this virus was mainly contained before reaching the U.S., where only eight people had laboratory evidence of this infection, and all of them have traveled to other parts of the world, where the outbreak was present. As of today, no SARS-related deaths were reported in the U.S. SARS’ symptoms, and the method of spread was quite similar to COVID-19.

2012: MERS-CoV | Mortality rate: 35%

2,494 infected | 858 deaths

The next coronavirus outbreak in modern history started ten years later. In September 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) had been notified of 2,494 cases of another coronavirus infection, later named Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, or in short MERS-CoV. It started in the Arabian Peninsula, entering the human population from the infected dromedary camels. According to WHO, about 35% of infected patients died from the virus. In June 2013, there were laboratory-confirmed cases reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. There were occasional cases of infected travelers in the U.K., Italy, France, and China. 2 years later, there was another outbreak of MERS-CoV in South Korea, which lasted about two months. In total, 27 countries were affected by the epidemic. How the danger to be infected in the U.S. was extremely low; there were only two confirmed cases of the disease – one in Indiana and the other one in Florida. Both patients traveled to the countries with the outbreak.

The primary difference of MERS-CoV with COVID-19 is the nature of its spread – it didn’t pass from person to person easily through respiratory routes, as COVID-19 does, and mainly required very close contact, like physical touch. According to CDC, as of today, it’s not entirely clear how MERS-CoV was spreading; however, based on the available data, infected people have spread the virus to others through healthcare or residence settings, caring or living with an infected person.

2019: COVID-19 (status as of March 20, 2020) | Mortality rate: 4,1%

255,305 infected | 10,444 deaths

The bad news

While the other two coronaviruses were mostly clustered in several parts of the world, COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic and has quickly spread across the world, affecting all continents.

The good news

Based on the current facts and number of recovered patients, COVID-19 is still considered less deadly than both previous coronaviruses, with a mortality rate of about 4.1%. However, as the situation continues to evolve, the final mortality rate will be clear only when the pandemic is eventually contained.

P.S. As of March 18 and 19, China did not report any new local coronavirus cases. While it is too early to say that China is on its way to recover, this is the first decline-related news that came from the pandemic epicenter since its outbreak.

So, what is the novel coronavirus COVID-19, exactly? And, more importantly, what is being done to contain the global pandemic? Read about this and more in our separate article coming up next. Have any questions in the meantime? Shoot us an email or post directly to our LIVEfeed!

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