A deadly coronavirus that's sweeping China and spreading around the world has killed more than 630 people. The current fatality rate is around 2%, but health experts predict it could ultimately be lower as more cases are reported. For the latest case total, death toll, and travel information, see Business Insider's live updates here.
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More people in mainland China have now died from the coronavirus outbreak that started in December than from the eight-month SARS outbreak in the early 2000s. That SARS outbreak was considered the first pandemic of the 21st century, since it spread across 29 countries. In total, 8,000 cases were recorded and 774 people died. The new coronavirus has killed more than 630 people, infected more than 31,000, and spread across 26 countries. But it appears to be far less deadly than the SARS coronavirus. Whereas SARS had a fatality rate of 9.6% (meaning that nearly 10% of people who caught the disease died from it), the new coronavirus seems to have a fatality rate of around 2% so far, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
That number could change as more cases come to light, however. As late as last week, The New York Times reported that doctors in Wuhan — the city where the outbreak started — were still running short on test kits, which leads to delayed diagnoses. After a person has been tested, it takes about one to two days for the results to come back. Combined, these factors create a lag time between when people are infected and when cases are confirmed. "My guess is there's a delay in a lot of the reporting," Aaron Milstone, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, told Business Insider. "If people are sick and they're not getting tested, then we don't know about them." The real fatality rate could be lower The virus' fatality rate looks different depending on how you slice it. Most of the cases so far are concentrated in China's Hubei province. The fatality rate there is slightly higher than the global figure: around 2.8%. The rate in Wuhan is even higher: 4.1%. A study published recently in the Lancet found a fatality rate of 11% among 99 novel coronavirus patients with a history of exposure to the seafood market where the virus likely originated. But many unknowns remain: Around 1,500 coronavirus patients are confirmed to be in recovery worldwide, which means there are around 29,000 whose fate is uncertain.
The virus is also continuing to spread. A peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet recently estimated that an infected person could pass the virus to two to three others, on average. That would mean the infected population could double every 6.4 days. The authors estimated that the true number of cases in Wuhan alone was around 75,800 as of January 25. But not all infected patients will die, of course. In fact, some health experts predict that the fatality rate could decrease as the number of cases rises. According to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cases being reported right now mainly represent people who are going to hospitals with severe symptoms. "There's another whole cohort that is either asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic," Fauci said at a live briefing from the Journal of the American Medical Association. "We're going to see a diminution in the overall death rate." The virus could resemble a 'pandemic flu' Estimates of the coronavirus' incubation period suggest it can last up to 14 days. During that time, carriers can be infectious even when they don't display symptoms. Patients with the virus generally have a fever and respiratory issues like coughing or difficulty breathing. The current test for the virus can only identify a case when a person is symptomatic. "We've seen people who had a detectable virus, then they didn't have a detectable virus, and then three days later they had a detectable virus," Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in a briefing last week. "We don't know the natural history of how this virus is secreted."
Thus far, the majority of people who have died have been elderly patients or those with preexisting health problems. A recent JAMA study of found that the median age of a novel coronavirus patient is between 49 and 56 years old. But Chinese authorities have reported that 80% of the cases in China are among those ages 60 and older. The WHO reports that 14% of reported cases in China are "severe." A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January also speculated that "children might be less likely to become infected or, if infected, may show milder symptoms" than adults. Fauci said the new coronavirus could wind up looking more like a pandemic flu than like SARS in terms of its fatality rate. SARS and the new coronavirus share around 80% of their genetic codes, but the virus family also includes pneumonia and the common cold. The worst pandemic flu, the 1918 Spanish influenza, had about the same fatality rate as the coronavirus right now. But other pandemic flues have been less deadly, Fauci said, with fatality rates between 0.8% and 1.2%. The normal seasonal flu, he added, has a fatality rate of around 0.1%. This year's strain is even less deadly so far, with a fatality rate of 0.05%, according to the CDC. "What we're seeing now in terms of illness and deaths reflect people who started getting sick a week ago," David Weber, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Business Insider. "My guess is things will change over time." Read more about the coronavirus: Everything we know about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak The genetic code of the Wuhan coronavirus shows it's 80% similar to SARS. New research suggests a potential way to neutralize the virus. Cruise ships, detention centers, seaside resorts, and motels: Photos show how travelers are being quarantined due to the coronavirus Whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, who was censored after sounding the alarm about the coronavirus, has died in WuhanJoin the conversation about this story »
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South Korea has tested 140,000 people for the coronavirus. That could explain why its death rate is just 0.6% — far lower than in China or the US.
South Korea has tested more than 140,000 people for the new coronavirus and confirmed more than...South Korea has tested more than 140,000 people for the new coronavirus and confirmed more than 6,000 cases. Its fatality rate is around 0.6%. This suggests that, as many health experts have predicted, the virus' fatality rate seems to decrease as more cases are reported. That's because more widespread testing leads more mild cases to be included in the count. The US, by contrast, has tested around 1,500 people. The country has 221 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, suggesting a death rate of 5%. The US' testing capacity has been limited. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The US and South Korea announced their first cases of the coronavirus on the same day: January 20. More than six weeks later, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested around 1,500 people for the virus. South Korea, meanwhile, has tested about 140,000. The nation is capable of conducting as many as 10,000 tests per day and has built drive-thru testing clinics that can detect coronavirus cases in just 10 minutes. Officials say the clinics can reduce testing time by a third. This quick response has allowed South Korea to detect more than 6,000 coronavirus patients, around 35 of whom have died. That means the country's fatality rate — the number of deaths out of the total number of infections — is around 0.6%. The World Health Organization estimated on Tuesday that the global fatality rate for the coronavirus is around 3.4%. Some health experts predict that this rate will decrease as the number of cases rises. South Korea offers solid evidence for that prediction so far. Widespread testing could mean a lower death rate because the majority of coronavirus cases — around 80% — are considered mild. But the cases reported first are often those with the most severe symptoms, since those people go to the hospital. Milder cases, on the other hand, could go uncounted or get reported later on. "If indeed we discover that there are far more cases that are actually being reported, and that one of the primary reasons for this is that we're just not detecting asymptomatic or mild or moderately symptomatic cases that don't end up seeking healthcare, then our estimates for the case fatality rate will likely decrease," Lauren Ancel Meyers, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas at Austin, told Business Insider. Mild cases, she added, "may not make it onto the radar of public health agencies." In the US, people without severe symptoms haven't been tested because of limited availability, which may explain why the nation's death rate so far is high: more than 5%. That's higher than the death rate in China — nearly 4% — where the outbreak started. Many mild cases could go undetected People under age 40 have just a 0.2% risk of dying from the virus, early research has shown. The majority of severe cases are among elderly patients or those with preexisting health problems. "Most people who get infected won't even know they have it," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press briefing on Wednesday. A day later, he added: "The facts do not merit the level of anxiety that we are seeing." But until Wednesday, the CDC had only tested people who had recent exposure to a confirmed patient, had travelled to a country with an outbreak, or required hospitalization. This has made it difficult for doctors and health officials to test or diagnose many patients with mild cases, which likely explains the US' high death rate. "There's another whole cohort that is either asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a February 6 briefing. "We're going to see a diminution in the overall death rate." 'You don't have the capacity to test everybody' South Korea saw a spike in coronavirus cases after a 61-year-old woman transmitted the virus to other members of a fringe religious group, the controversial Shincheonji Church of Jesus. On February 23, South Korean president Moon Jae-in warned that the country faced "a grave turning point" in its efforts to contain the outbreak. Since then, it has implemented widespread testing. In the US, the CDC opted to develop its own test, one that could identify multiple viruses, ProPublica reported. But the tests turned out to be faulty: A problem with one ingredient caused more than half of state labs to receive inconclusive results. In response, the CDC said it would replace the ingredient and manufacture new tests. "What happened in the US is the CDC created and sent out a test to all 50 states and then said, 'Wait, hold up, don't use it,'" Matthew McCarthy, a hospitalist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, told CNBC last week. By the end of February, only three of the nation's more than 100 public-health labs had verified the CDC test for use. In the meantime, labs had to send samples to the CDC in Atlanta to confirm a case. That causes a delay of up to 48 hours between testing and confirmation. "At first, CDC was the only place where testing could be performed," Richard Martinello, an associate professor of infectious disease at the Yale School of Medicine, told Business Insider. "For a country of our size, when you only have a single site doing that, it limits the resources available for testing." McCarthy told CNBC he had to call the Department of Health and "plead to test people" at his hospital in New York. The US has reported around 220 cases of the virus so far, though the CDC has only confirmed 148. The confirmed cases include 46 passengers who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and three repatriated evacuees from Wuhan, China. But researchers at the Seattle Flu Study estimated that the number of infections in Washington state alone may have already reached 570. The US' official death count as of Thursday is 12. On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began allowing academic hospital labs to develop and use their own coronavirus tests. The New York health department is now partnering with local hospitals to expand testing capacity for the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday. The goal is to conduct 1,000 test per day, he added — but the current capacity is still limited. "We're at a couple of hundred tests per day, so you prioritize who can be tested," Cuomo said. "You don't have the capacity to test everybody 'just in case.'"Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 myths about the coronavirus, including why masks won't help
The WHO has confirmed that the coronavirus death rate is 3.4% — higher than earlier estimates. Older patients face the highest risk.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday confirmed that the global death rate for coronavirus is...The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday confirmed that the global death rate for coronavirus is 3.4% — higher than earlier estimates of about 2%. In contrast, the seasonal flu kills far less than 1% of those infected. It's also important to remember that the fatality rate of the disease is based on several factors, including where a patient is being treated, their age, the severity of the disease, and any pre-existing health conditions they might have. Experts have also predicted that the fatality rate of the disease will likely decrease as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The World Health Organization confirmed on Tuesday that the global death rate for the novel coronavirus is 3.4% — higher than earlier estimates of about 2%. The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 3,100 people and infected nearly 93,000 as of Tuesday. The virus causes a disease known as COVID-19. Speaking at a media briefing, Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that, globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. In contrast, the seasonal flu kills far less than 1% of those infected. The mortality rate of coronavirus will also likely change as more cases are confirmed, and experts predict the percentage of deaths will decrease as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise. "There's another whole cohort that is either asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a briefing last month. "We're going to see a diminution in the overall death rate." 'It is a unique virus with unique characteristics' Tedros noted differences between the coronavirus and other infectious diseases, like MERS, SARS, and influenza. He said that data suggests COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as the flu and that people who are infected but not yet sick with the flu are major transmitters of the disease, which does not appear to be the case for coronavirus. He added that COVID-19 appears to cause a "more severe disease" than the seasonal flu, and explained that while people around the world may have built up an immunity to the flu over time, the novelty of the coronavirus means no one yet has immunity, and more people are susceptible to infection. "It is a unique virus with unique characteristics," he said. Tedros said last week that the mortality rate of the disease can differ greatly based on the country of treatment. He added that people with mild cases of the disease will recover in about two weeks, and those with severe cases may take three to six weeks to recover. Despite the higher global death rate, the number of fatalities is based on several factors The fatality rate of the disease is based on several factors, including where a patient is being treated, their age, the severity of the disease, and any pre-existing health conditions they might have. Coronavirus cases have been reported in at least 76 countries, with a vast majority occurring in China. A study conducted last month from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the virus most seriously affected older people with preexisting health problems. The data suggests a person's chances of dying from the disease increase with age. Notably, the research showed that patients ages 10-19 had the same chance of dying from COVID-19 as patients in their 20s and 30s, but the disease appeared to be much more fatal in people ages 50 and over. About 80% of coronavirus cases are mild, the research showed, and experts think many mild cases haven't been reported because some people aren't going to the doctor or hospitals for treatment. Here's how the coronavirus compares with a handful of other major outbreaks. Aria Bendix contributed reporting. Read more: Everything we know about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak Men represent the majority of coronavirus cases so far. Researchers think smoking could play a role. As the coronavirus outbreak worsens outside of China, hopes of containing it are diminishing Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 9 items to avoid buying at Costco
Coronavirus patients with heart disease have a 10% chance of dying. Here's the mortality rate for patients with various underlying health problems.
Coronavirus patients with underlying health problems are more likely to die from the virus, a recent...Coronavirus patients with underlying health problems are more likely to die from the virus, a recent Chinese CDC study found. The study found that patients with heart disease had a 10% chance of dying. In general, older patients are the most likely to suffer severe symptoms and die. The first patient to die of the coronavirus in the US was a man in his 50s who had been chronically ill. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Older patients and people with preexisting health conditions face the highest risk of dying from the new coronavirus, a recent study found. The study, done by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, found that the overall chances of dying from COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus — are 2.3%. Other estimates suggest the fatality rate could be higher: around 4.3%. The current rate, based on the ratio of reported deaths to total cases worldwide, hovers around 3.4%. But the Chinese CDC study found that the fatality rate rate rose to 8% for patients in their 70s and 15% among those in their 80s.Out of more than 44,000 coronavirus patients studied, the majority of deaths were among those at least 60 or older. Older patients are also more likely to have preexisting health problems. The first patient to die of the coronavirus in the US, for instance, was a man in his 50s who had been chronically ill before getting infected. Nearly 5,300 patients in the Chinese study reported a health condition not related to the virus, such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Around 7% of those cases — more than 370 patients — died. Overall, patients with preexisting conditions represented more than a third of all deaths reported in the study. The fatality rate for patients who reported no underlying health problem was less than 1%. Here's the mortality rate for each preexisting condition reported in the study: The authors were missing the health history of more than 20,000 patients in their study, but their research is still provides one of the broadest pictures so far of how COVID-19 operates in humans. Among coronavirus patients, the preexisting condition that raises risk most appears to be heart disease. Patients already diagnosed with heart disease had a fatality rate of more than 10%. Diabetes was the preexisting condition with the second-highest fatality rate: 7%. Patients with the most commonly reported preexisting condition, hypertension (high blood pressure), had a fatality rate of 6%. Coronavirus patients with cancer had a similar fatality rate. In total, COVID-19 has killed nearly 3,000 people and infected around 86,000. The outbreak originated in Wuhan, central China's most populous city, and has since spread to at least 58 other countries. More than 90% of cases are on the Chinese mainland. Read more: The CDC is warning travelers about visiting 5 countries because of the coronavirus. Here's the US government's guidance for Americans. As the coronavirus outbreak worsens outside of China, hopes of containing it are diminishing Men represent the majority of coronavirus cases so far. Researchers think smoking could play a role. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths