A new study has revealed that COVID-19 is more contagious than the related viruses resulting in severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).  Conducted by a group of experts at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the study was the most comprehensive examination of the novel coronavirus cases so far.

The study examined data from 72,314 patients, 61.8% of which were confirmed cases, 14.6% were clinically diagnosed cases, and 22.4% were suspected cases. Of the confirmed cases, the Chinese CDC found that there was a crude mortality rate of 2.3%.. In comparison, the SARS outbreak of 2003 had a case fatality rate of 9.6% while MERS had 34% between 2012 and 2019.

Despite the lower fatality rate of COVID-19, however, the disease has so far resulted in more deaths than SARS and MERS combined, suggesting that the novel coronavirus is far more contagious than its two predecessors. As of Wednesday, Feb. 19, 1871 had already died from COVID-19. SARS and MERS, on the other hand, had combined deaths of 1,632.

Ghebreyesus also revealed that 14% of COVID-19 cases were severe, causing pneumonia and shortness of breath. 5% of them also suffered from respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure. “As more data comes in from China, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of the outbreak, how it’s developing, and where it could be headed,” said Ghebreyesus.

The WHO chief also added that while recent data have shown a decline in the rate of new coronavirus cases, it’s difficult to tell when this new virus will flame out as the infection continues to spread across new populations. Just this week, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Africa.

As of Feb. 18, there had already been 1,867 coronavirus-related deaths in China. 12,500 of the patients have recovered from the disease while 58,000 patients with confirmed cases are still being treated in hospitals. Currently, there are also at least 794 confirmed cases and three deaths outside China, with infections particularly spiking in neighboring countries like Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.

corona virus The novel coronavirus has already infected thousands in China. World Health Organization (WHO) / Facebook