The novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The new, or “novel” coronavirus, now called 2019-nCoV, had not previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It causes a pneumonia-like illness that progresses to severe acute respiratory syndrome and even death. New data shows that the novel coronavirus is more severe and deadlier than flu, and older adults are at the highest risk.
The report, which was released by the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), shows that the coronavirus outbreak is more severe than the common flu. The latest death toll tops 2,000 and infected 75,199 people as of Feb. 19. It has spread across 28 countries, while the epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei province, reported an additional 98 deaths and 1,891 new infections.
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Deadlier than common flu
When coronavirus first came to light in the last week of 2019, it was thought the seasonal flu was much more dangerous and contagious than the novel coronavirus. A new analysis by the CDC in China, however, shows that COVID-19 is at least 20 times more fatal than the common flu.
Firstly, COVID-19 has already spread wider than SARS and surpassed its death toll. The deaths tied to the new coronavirus are now twice as many as the SARS outbreak that affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases in 2003.
Secondly, the CDC in China reports that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has a fatality rate of 2.3 percent.
In comparison, the common flu in the United States so far is 0.1 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
Though the coronavirus death rate is far below that of SARS in 2003, with a death rate of 10 percent, there were fewer than 10,000 cases that were confirmed, compared to more than 70,000 coronavirus cases.
Also, the death rate of the coronavirus is greater than the 2009 H1N1 swine flu that infected about a fifth of the total global population. However, the death rate was 0.02 percent.
Further, the CCDC reports that out of a total of 72,314 as of Feb. 11, there were 44,672 confirmed cases, 16,186 suspected cases, and 10,567 clinically diagnosed cases in Hubei province alone. There were also 889 asymptomatic cases, which means the patients had no symptoms but had the coronavirus.
Among the confirmed cases, most patients were between 30 and 79 years old. The total deaths reported were 1,023 from these confirmed cases.
“COVID-19 epidemic has spread very quickly, taking only 30 days to expand from Hubei to the rest of Mainland China. With many people returning from a long holiday, China needs to prepare for the possible rebound of the epidemic,” the CCDC researchers concluded.
Seniors at highest risk
Virologists and the CDCC researchers found that 80.9 percent of the infections were mild, while 13.8 percent were severe. Men are more likely to get the illness than women. About 51.4 percent of those who contracted the coronavirus were men.
Also, men had a 2.8 chance of dying from the coronavirus, compared to women with a 1.7 percent chance. When it comes to age, children and adolescents were not severely affected by the virus, with only 2 percent of the total infections, or less than 1,000 were aged 0 to 19 years old.
However, seniors over 80 years old have the most significant risk of succumbing to the illness with a fatality ratio of 14.8 percent. Older adults between 70 and 79 years old have an 8 percent chance of dying, while those in their 60s had 3.6 percent of dying from the coronavirus.
Older adults are advised to avoid crowded places, practice good hygiene, particularly regular handwashing, and strengthen their immune systems by eating a balanced diet.