Coronavirus is much deadlier than the common flu despite comparisons, new analysis shows

The coronavirus that is infecting thousands of people per day in China is much deadlier than the common flu, according to a new analysis by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China.

Some, in downplaying the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, have pointed out how many people die from the common flu every year. During the 2017-18 flu season, about 61,000 people died.

Although the coronavirus has not yet registered such a high number of fatalities, early analysis indicates that there is reason to be more concerned about coronavirus than about the flu. From the New York Times:

An analysis of 44,672 coronavirus patients in China whose diagnoses were confirmed by laboratory testing has found that 1,023 had died by Feb. 11. That’s a fatality rate of 2.3 percent. Figures released on a daily basis suggest the rate has further increased in recent days.

That is far higher than the mortality rate of the seasonal flu, with which the new coronavirus has sometimes been compared. In the United States, flu fatality rates hover around 0.1 percent.

Still, skeptics might argue that a 2.3% death rate is not significant enough to be concerned about. But The Hill’s Saagar Enjeti noted that such a rate, compared with estimates about the potential scope of the virus’s spread, could result in millions of deaths.

“People saying 2.3% mortality rate is nothing to worry about; Some predictions say 40-70% of global population could be infected. Let’s say it’s 40, that means 64 million dead,” Enjeti tweeted.

That 40% to 70% estimate comes from Harvard public health professor Marc Lipsitch, who told the Wall Street Journal that a global coronavirus pandemic is likely.

“I think it is likely we’ll see a global pandemic,” Lipsitch said. “If a pandemic happens, 40% to 70% of people worldwide are likely to be infected in the coming year.”

China announced Tuesday that the total number of coronavirus cases was at 72,436, with a death toll of 1,868.

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