The coronavirus outbreak is growing at a rapid clip. However, the virus' recovery rate is growing faster than its death rate.
Quarantined cruise ships of doom, terrifying online videos, and wild conspiracy theories. The Wuhan coronavirus crisis looks, on the surface, like a disaster rapidly slipping out of control. As the new disease’s death rate tops 1,000, people have a right to be scared.
But there is a glimmer of hope buried deep within the avalanche of dismal statistics. The coronavirus’ recovery rate is growing faster than its death rate. According to the latest data, of the 43,119 confirmed coronavirus cases, 4,190 have recovered while only 1,018 have died. As healthcare workers become better at treating the disease, we may see 2019-nCoV’s fatality rate go down even further.
The Wuhan coronavirus is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. On Monday, Chinese authorities identified 2,478 new cases of 2019-nCoV, bringing the total number of infected to 42,655 in mainland China alone. 108 Chinese patients died of the disease on Monday along with one person in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.
As of Tuesday, 2019-nCoV has spread to a total of 27 countries and regions including the United States where 12 Americans have tested positive for the virus and 68 are pending test results. However, there is a glimmer of hope buried within these dismal statistics.
The number of patients recovering from the Wuhan coronavirus is growing faster than the number dying from it. Over time, this trend may push the virus’ death rate to a much lower level. On top of this, the number of newly confirmed cases per day seems to have plateaued.
These data shouldn’t justify downplaying the public health crisis. But it is a good news for the people trapped in the hardest-hit areas. Less new cases are being added every day, and more people are recovering from the new disease.
There is no known cure or vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus — that means most patients receive palliative care to manage their symptoms and make sure they don’t die of secondary conditions like pneumonia or organ failure. Some countries, like Thailand, claim to have found success by treating the coronavirus with anti-viral drug cocktails designed to treat flu and HIV. But the American CDC maintains that there is no recommended treatment for the novel illness.
Nevertheless, many patients are recovering from 2019-nCoV. According to Chinese authorities on Monday, over 8% of coronavirus patients have recovered including over 6.1% in hard-hit Wuhan. This is a massive jump from the 1.3% recoveries declared on Jan. 27.
A total of 4,190 patients have recovered from the coronavirus, bringing the total of global recoveries to 9.7% while the global death rate stands at 2.3%. As the recovery rate continues to grow faster than the death rate, we could see the coronavirus’ overall fatality rate dip to a relatively low level.
For comparison, SARS had a fatality rate of 9.6%, Ebola has a fatality rate of around 50%, and H1N1 had a rate of 0.02%. With a current fatality rate of 2.3%, Wuhan coronavirus is still a relatively deadly disease, but it is much less severe than many of its zoonotic cousins. So far, several companies are working on a 2019-nCoV vaccine, but it may take years for such a drug to reach the market.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.