Interviewer: Professor Baric,
thank you very much for taking the time to
do this interview with us on the topic of
the worldwide ongoing SARS-CoV-2
outbreak and the disease it triggers
called COVID-19. Let me start by asking you
a few questions regarding the context of
this virus and its outbreak.
Recent estimates show this current
SARS-CoV-2 has a mortality rate reaching
above 3%. How accurate is this in your
opinion, and how does this compare with
the severity of the Spanish flu of 1918?
Prof. Baric: Let me start off by saying that the
Spanish flu mortality rate was estimated
somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5%. The current
estimates for the SARS-2 outbreak strain
is about 3.4% based on 100,000
defined cases, positive cases.
Of course, the big question is what is the
actual denominator and are we capturing
all those cases.
Most people, most scientists, most
epidemiologists would argue, we probably
are not capturing most of the cases, so
the actual mortality rate is probably
a half or one quarter of what is being
reported from the known cases, mostly
because we're not detecting all the
infected cases globally.
Now, an important caveat here is that
SARS-2 causes an age-related mortality.
Consequently, if you're over the age of
80, then the mortality rate is about 15%.
between 60 and 70, for example,
the mortality rate is around 3.4%.
If you're below the age of 40, the
mortality rate is less than 0.4%.