The new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has set off all the alarms with the first infections and deaths outside China (where it started in Wuhan last December 31). However, although it is spreading rapidly and there are already more than 80,000 infections worldwide, the mortality figures are lower than those caused by influenza, rabies or Ebola. In fact, the coronaviruses of 2003 and 2012 were more lethal than the current one, and their spread was much smaller.
While it is true that there are risks of it becoming a pandemic (a term that refers to the geographical spread of the virus, not its lethality), the level of mortality is low. According to the WHO, the proportion of deaths due to coronavirus in Wuhan (the center of infection and where most deaths have occurred) is 2-4%, while in the rest of the world it is 0.7%, which translates into a survival rate of 99.2%. In addition, most of those affected usually present related pathologies and are of advanced age.
According to a report by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the largest report on this pathology to date), it concludes that the virus is fatal in only 2% of cases. The study shows that 15% of the deceased are over 80 years of age, 8% are between 70 and 79 years of age, and that none of the 416 children under 10 years of age infected in the area have died. In addition, the mortality rate is higher among men, at 2.8%, while that of women is 1.7%.
The report also shows that 80.9% of the new coronavirus infections are mild, 13.8% severe and 4.7% critical, presenting with respiratory and multiorgan failure and septic shock.
If we compare the incidence of the coronavirus with other epidemics, we see that the figures are much less critical in this case. For example, the WHO estimates that annual epidemics of seasonal influenza cause between 290,000 and 650,000 deaths. More specifically, the last influenza campaign in Spain caused 525,300 cases and 6,300 deaths (a mortality rate of 1.2%). Thus, influenza has caused more deaths in Spain than the coronavirus worldwide. For its part, the SARS outbreak of 2003 had a mortality rate of 10% while that of MERS in 2012 was 35%.
In addition to China, people have died in South Korea, Iran, Japan, Italy, France, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
For now it is not known how the virus will evolve, and experts point out that the important thing is to try to contain its spread.
Tips to prevent the coronavirus.