- The coronavirus has grown to infect over 90,000 with hotspots developing in South Korea, Italy, and Iran.
- According to the WHO, the disease is 70% more fatal than previously expected. 3.4% of patients are expected to die from the virus.
- Health agencies around the globe are beginning to offer contradictory data about Covid-19. The WHO’s data conflicts with earlier research from China’s CDC.
WHO director Tedros Ghebreyesus this week revealed that Covid-19 has a fatality rate of 3.4% — a full 70% higher than the previously believed figure of 2.3%. The chief doctor shared these findings at a press conference at his agency’s headquarters in Geneva Switzerland.
Ghebreyesus’s revelation comes as Covid-19 case fatalities soar in both Italy and Iran. So far, the official death rate in both countries surpasses previous estimates but falls short of the WHO’s new guidelines. With a fatality rate of 3.4%, Covid-19 is 20 to 30 times deadlier than influenza. These findings contradict earlier research published by the Chinese CDC.
Coronavirus is Spreading Around the Globe
Although the WHO has neglected to declare Covid-19 a global pandemic, the agency has designated the virus a public health emergency of international concern as it rapidly spreads around the globe.
But many experts disagree about the classification of the virus. For example, Germany’s Health Minister has called the new disease a “worldwide Pandemic,” and it fits at least two of three CDC criteria for that classification in the United States.
The WHO may be trying to avoid calling coronavirus a pandemic to prevent panic in the global economy.
So far, the virus has infected 95,481 people with 3,285 fatalities. Caseloads are soaring in South Korea, which reports 5,621 cases, Italy, which reports 2,502 cases, and Iran, which reports 2,922 cases.
In mainland China, where the outbreak started, the authorities claim the number of new cases is rapidly declining with the majority of cases still confined to Hubei province where 67,466 people are reportedly infected. But it is important to note that the U.S CDC believes China’s data is underreported based on models that extrapolate the virus’s spread in other countries.
The Chinese CDC recently completed a study that claims Covid-19’s case fatality rate is around 2.3%. That’s why it comes as a surprise to learn that the WHO believes the real fatality rate is 3.4% – a full 70% higher than previously believed.
Covid-19 Seems Particularly Deadly in Some Areas
Many experts believed Covid-19’s fatality rate would fall once it reached more developed healthcare systems in the West. But so far, the data out of Italy suggests this will not be the case. Out of 2,502 cases, Italian authorities have reported 79 deaths, giving the virus a case fatality rate of 3.16% in the country.
Iran reports a case fatality rate of 3.15% despite being a much poorer country that is facing by crippling sanctions. This suggests the wealth of a nation may not have much impact on the virus’s fatality rate.
Washington in the United States also reports a surprisingly high death rate with 10 out of the 39 confirmed cases succumbing to the illness. This would give the disease a case fatality rate of over 25% in that area.
There is No Vaccine
While the Covid-19’s fatality rate of 3.4% doesn’t look high, it could potentially lead to thousands of deaths if the virus becomes an uncontrolled global pandemic. This death rate is a full 70% higher than previously expected – and in line with the Spanish Flu. Some researchers have estimated that Covid-19 could grow to infect 60% of the world’s population, and this would be enough to cause millions of deaths.
Microsoft founder, Bill Gates claims the disease could spark a pandemic that claims 10 million lives if it spreads to areas with weak healthcare systems. It’s starting to look like Gate’s terrifying vision could be becoming a reality.
So far, companies in multiple countries are working on a vaccine for Covid-19. In the U.S healthcare giants Gilead and Moderna lead on testing. But it could take months, if not years before a vaccine is ready for market.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.