How serious is the new coronavirus epidemic?
A sense of anxiety is growing in Wuhan as the Chinese city goes into lockdown in an effort to control the spread of a new virus which has left 17 dead.
The authorities have suspended planes and trains in and out of the city of 11 million people, as well as buses, subways and ferries.
Residents have been told not to leave. Worried about a food shortage, one said it felt like “the end of the world”.
There are more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus, which has spread abroad.
It’s already spread to several other countries
What’s been happening with Ebola, by the way? Is the latest outbreak over yet? Anything but, it would seem. The Ebola epidemic in the Congo, which began in 2018, is still growing, with 3804 cases in total, and 2224 deaths, up until the end of December 2019:
There seems to currently be about 1000 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic, and 17 deaths: so 98% of victims survive. In the case of Ebola in the Congo, with 3804 cases, only 41% of those infected survive.
So the Coronavirus epidemic is spreading much more rapidly than the Ebola epidemic. But is it any more dangerous than, say, influenza? Perhaps not:
The case-fatality rate is central to pandemic planning. While estimates of case-fatality (CF) rates for past influenza pandemics have ranged from about 0.1% (1957 and 1968 pandemics) to 2.5% (1918 pandemic)
Case-fatality rate with the current Coronavirus epidemic is about 2%, which is similar to the influenza epidemic of 1918.
Another estimate gives a figure of 1723 cases by 12 January 2020, which with 17 deaths is a 1% case-fatality rate.
The Coronavirus epidemic looks like it’s pretty much just a nasty case of ‘flu.