The novel coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV has now killed more people than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus did during the 2002-2003 outbreak.
The novel coronavirus has killed over 900 people as of February 9, according to the World Health Organization. One of those deaths happened in the Philippines, and the rest occurred in China.
That’s more than the 774 people around the world who died from SARS nearly two decades ago, according to WHO data. There were about 8,000 confirmed cases of SARS worldwide, according to the WHO, meaning its death rate was about 10%.
Both pathogens are in the coronavirus family, but it appears the 2019-nCoV could be less deadly than SARS.
At the time of writing, there are 37,558 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV around the world according to the WHO, meaning the new virus’ death rate is around 2%.
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By comparison, seasonal influenza, which kills about half a million people around the world every year, has a death rate a little below 1%, depending on the year.
“I don’t consider [2019-nCoV] really low risk, but I don’t consider it to be a global killer of epic proportions,” said Jason Kindrachuk, a Canada research chair in medical microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba.
“We’re cautious right now.”
The novel coronavirus emerged in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei province. That’s where the majority of infections and deaths have occurred.