Coronavirus Could Infect Billions

Professor Ira Longini, an adviser to the World Health Organization, estimates that two-thirds of the world’s population could catch coronavirus. He is co-director of the Centre for Statistics and Quantitative Infectious Diseases at the University of Florida.

Professor Ira Longini tracked studies of the virus’s transmissibility in China.

Prof Longini’s modeling is based on data showing that each infected person normally transmits the disease to two to three other people. A lack of rapid tests and the relative mildness of the infection in some people also makes it difficult to track its spread.

Prof Neil Ferguson, a researcher at Imperial College London, estimated that as many as 50,000 people may be infected each day in China.

Professor Gabriel Leung, a public health professor at the University of Hong Kong, has also said close to two-thirds of the world could catch the virus if it is left unchecked.

Coronavirus Compared to Seasonal Flu

Seasonal flu kills 291,000 to 646,000 people worldwide each year, according to a 2017 estimate from the US Center for Disease Control. This is higher than the previous estimate of 250,000 to 500,000 deaths a year.

Seasonal flu cases 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness each year.

5-20% of the US population gets flu each year.

The flu has resulted in 9.3 million to 49 million illnesses each year in the United States since 2010. It is estimated that the flu results in 31.4 million outpatient visits and more than 200,000 hospitalizationsTrusted Source each year.

During the severe 2017-2018 flu season one of the longest in recent years, estimates indicate that more than 900,000 people in the US were hospitalized and more than 80,000 people died from flu

41 thoughts on “Coronavirus Could Infect Billions”

  1. The EU and US go on war-like footing to funnel huge resources into developing and ramping up vaccine output, quarantine facilities, mandating masks in public etc.

    Yeah… no

  2. Could Covid-19 be an effective climate change strategy? Before the pile-on, thinking about all those Malthusians out there in the extinction rebellion gene pool.

    A near and present danger to humanity like this virus can take the wind out of the Church of Climate’s sails. It will be evident for most that immediate crises is always more important than slowly boiling the frog. That the world will not end in 10 years, 9 months, 13 days and 7 hours from now due to the unpredictable slowly changing climate.

    There is a silver lining in every problem.

    Strange that we haven’t seen Greta popping up much on TV lately, have we?

  3. older and frail. My dad was in ICU with pneumonia from the flu, mom-in-law too. Smokers, much higher risk of hospitalization (see China right now). Otherwise, perfectly healthy don’t get admitted.

  4. Around 2.5% lethality if you go by total deaths divided by total cases – but that’s likely optimistic due to the lag between proven infection and death.

    15% if you take total deaths divided by total recoveries – which is probably pessimistic. Daily deaths divided by daily recoveries is around 13% – also pessimistic. I’m guessing 5-10% will be the final number.

    Also, if you look at total deaths plus total recoveries (closed cases) as of today, it’s around 13K. But comparing that number to past total cases, you have to go back 13-14 days to get to that number. So it’s sounding like 2 weeks to recover (or die) AFTER symptoms become sufficient to diagnose!

    If there are people hiding from officials (bound to be some), that implies a long infectious period to spread the virus, on top of apparently a fairly long incubation period before symptoms show up. There could be a nasty surprise yet to come.

  5. Flu vaccinations have to be made ahead of time to match a chosen strain and they never really know what strain will be dominant. Many years they’re not very good. Hopefully they can improve on that.

  6. More deadly than influenza is a vague term.

    There are many flues, and some (eg. 1918 Spanish) are much, much more dangerous than others.

    Even if this disease is “no worse than flu” and that turns out to be another 1918, that’s still an international disaster.

  7. The good thing with that is that, unlike childhood diseases, the person making the decision is the person who has to live with the results.

  8. Read the other comments here about ACE2 receptors and how they might be genetic, and might just be a cigarette smoking thing. Both of which would have different effects in different parts of the world.

  9. Not in the USA, but I know one guy who should have been hospitalized for flu. But he just went home to tough it out. He figured he was healthy, early 40s, a few days in bed and he’d be fine.

    His girlfriend found his body a couple of days later. 🙁

  10. Considering the high sickness and death rate of the flu it still surprise me the percentage of the population who refuse to be vaccinated.

  11. Some papers estimate that R0 is 2 even with a severe quarantine in place, enough to double cases every week. Prior to quarantines, it was doubling twice a week. So extremely good at spreading, as it spreads while asymptomatic and exhibits mild symptoms for several days before becoming more severe than a cold.

    Also note that it may not be possible to develop an effective vaccine in time. Not all candidate vaccines improve the survival rate. There may be technical issues that require a scientific breakthrough to resolve, after years of research.

  12. It’s worth remembering that past pandemics like the 1918 “Spanish Flu” came in waves, with the mortality rate of the first wave being pretty low. The first wave mortality rate could be much lower than estimated, 0.5% among non-smokers, and then the second wave could be 5%, either because of mutations that make it more lethal or because the first wave weakened people who then succumb when they are infected again by the second wave. Numbers are just an illustration, we should be acknowledge that we don’t know anything for sure yet, there is a wide range of possible outcomes.

    Current behaviour doesn’t tell you anything about how it will behave 12 months from now.

  13. If this is true countries with high rates of smoking like Indonesia, Egypt and Russia will be hit hard if it gets there. And within Western countries, we should see large differences in death rates between smokers and non-smokers.

  14. Other studies found no difference in the prevalence of ACE2 receptors between races, but much high levels in smokers. Initial study failed to correct for high smoking rates among Asian men.

  15. Most Chinese men smoke, so it may actually be that the virus is more severe in smokers, regardless of ethnicity

  16. Vitamin D supplements protect against acute respiratory infections including colds and flu, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

  17. Fatality rate is only among confirmed cases. Unconfirmed cases outnumbered confirmed likely by 20x or more.
    Stats so far suggest it is 5-10x more deadly than influenza.

  18. I have seen reports (yeah, I know, on the Internet) that place the R(0) at somewhere between 3.5 and 5.0. That could be the reason why the Chinese are so panicked. That, and lethality higher than 2% (which is already 20 times higher than the flu, at least here in the US). The combination is quick awful to contemplate, especially since we have no vaccine and no apparent cure.

    ***HOWEVER*** the simple fact is that we just don’t know enough about this virus to have any definitive answers. It could be much less bad than a lot of people believe, or much worse. I, among many others, don’t trust a damned thing that the Chinese SAY, but I pay attention to what they have done and are doing. The latter is not exactly a cause for optimism.

  19. Nothing is special about the US in terms of Flu. We run around 250,000 hospitalizations for Flu per year. Statistically you would have to know 2000 people personally for 1 to be in the hospital for flu. The person that was hospitalized would most likely be old or otherwise in ill health. Random thought but I find most people I talk to about this think the Flu is synonymous with a GI virus. Very common for people in the Midwest US to say I threw up a lot last weekend I must have had the Flu. Were clearly a respiratory diseases and stomach base Noro virus are very different.

  20. In the 1800s, the cape buffalo covered the African plains. Then came the rinderpest virus and, just a few years later, they were very difficult to find, as over 90% of their numbers had been killed (along with many other large animals, domestic and otherwise and, in Ethiopia alone, a third of the population starved to death).

    Science not withstanding, the more successful a species is, the more vulnerable it becomes to something like this.

    I’m trying to imagine my life with 2 to 5 people out of every 100, suddenly gone (presuming I am not one of them).

  21. I wouldnt trust any chinese numbers… they like to exaggerate by a factor of four in either direction…why 4? Who knows…

  22. Reality Check – the lethality rate could be as low as 0.2%. We cannot trust the Chinese numbers (on number of infected). Many, many people have the disease and are confined to their homes. They aren’t on official reports because they haven’t been tested.

  23. In the case of Corona Virus, substitute the words Viral Pneumonia and think about the people you know who were in the Hospital for Pneumonia.

  24. Reality Check – the lethality rate could be as high as 5%. We cannot trust the Chinese numbers. One Chinese news source claims that if the health officials there run out of DNA test kits and cannot conclusively identify the Corona Virus – the dead are not included in the number.

  25. There are a lot of flu cases, so even a small percentage getting hospitalized would produce a large number. But at the same time, a small percentage means you’re unlikely to know someone like that personally.

    Also, you may be confusing flu and common cold. Those are different diseases. Flu has more tendency for complications, which require hospital treatment.

  26. Now for your evening entertainment, go look at the venn diagram of twitter hashtags regarding antivax, FEMA camps, and coronavirus.

  27. Hospitalised from flu? Wow. Never met anyone in my life that’s been hospitalised by flu. What’s so special about the US that so many people get it so severely? Something to do with the lack of mandatory holiday keeping stress high and immune systems low?

  28. Makes a lot of sense. We can see in the chart below that the developed countries in China proximity that has close ties with it show many more cases than the similar developing countries where the scrutiny is less tight. These countries, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Burma and African countries are probably already incubating the next wave of the pandemic.

    The best that we can do at the moment is improve and produce as many test kits as we reasonably can, a questionnaire should be developed to locate the 5-10 people each patient that pops up has spend most time with in close proximity during the presumed incubation period and have them tested, if this process is streamlined most infected people can be discovered before infecting more. I understand that it takes around 6 hours currently to get the test results.

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