Viruses are in the same family and both can cause fever and pneumonia . Therefore, it is convenient to establish a comparison between pneumonia caused by this new virus and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which infected more than 8,000 people during a global outbreak that began in 2003.
So far, the new virus appears to have a lower death rate. Based on the number of reported cases and deaths, the rate appears to be around 2.8 percent, compared to a 9.6 percent rate for SARS. On the other hand, it is spreading faster .
Naturally, we are still in the early outbreaks, so it is too early to know what we are up against.
The most striking thing is, perhaps, that this coronavirus is spreading faster than SARS . SARS took several months to cause 1,000 cases, but this coronavirus has caused 3,000 cases in three weeks.
The SARS outbreak ended in 2004 ; and no cases have been reported since . Health agencies controlled the virus by isolating infected people, but such measures will be more difficult with a virus that can be transmitted before symptoms appear.
There is also the possibility that the virus could mutate and become more contagious or deadly. However, the virus appears to be stable.
The WHO has self-corrected its rating of the risk level of the Chinese coronavirus: raising it from "moderate" to "high", but this correction does not change the fact that the WHO does not consider the epidemic to be a "public health emergency of concern international". So far, the WHO has used this term only in rare cases of epidemics that require a far-reaching global response, including the H1N1 swine flu in 2009, the Zika virus in 2016, and Ebola fever .
In short, this virus differs from SARS in:
- Lower mortality
- Faster contagion
- Symptoms take longer to appear (and infected ones to be detected)
- There is a possibility that it may mutate
It is still too early to be alarmed, but we must not lower our guard, for example in cases such as the “supercontagiator” (translation of the English expression used in medicine, super spreader): a patient who has transmitted the coronavirus to at least 16 health workers .