Is the coronavirus as deadly as Ebola?

Mudassir Ali
Mar 11, 2020 10:55 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Mar 11, 2020 10:56 AM

The new corona virus, nCoV-2019 is still being researched and we do not as yet have all the epidemiological data about it.

From what I have read about it the case fatality is far lower than Ebola virus disease, but unlike that it is spread by airborne transmission which makes it easier to catch. Also unlike Ebola virus disease the coronavirus can spread in the incubation period and it seems likely that those with asymptomatic infections can also spread the infection.

I would say that nCoV-2019 has the potential to cause more deaths, spread over more countries than Ebola virus disease, but we are lacking information about it.

So this not a straightforward question to answer. You can not really make a direct comparison of very different pathogens. It all depends on what you mean by the phrase “more dangerous than”. There is the case fatality rate, but that is not that useful on its own, you also need the R0 or basic reproductive number.

You could have a disease that only kills one in a thousand of infected people and another that kills nine hundred and ninety nine out of a thousand infected people. Is the latter more dangerous? That depends on how easy it is to become infected.

A disease with a high reproductive number will tend to infect more people but it could have a low case fatality rate so not many of those people die, but because more people are infected more people in total would die.

Then there are other factors.

What is the incubation period of the disease?

Can the disease be spread by infected people who have no symptoms?

What ages of people are most vulnerable to the disease?

In some cases infants are most vulnerable, in others the elderly are most vulnerable. This can even vary between different strains of the same virus. Influenza is usually a killer of the elderly and young children. The 1918 influenza however was most deadly for people aged twenty to forty.

With hepatitis B about 90% of those infected in infancy will develop chronic disease that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, but for people infected as adults 90% will naturally clear the infection.

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