Audio Interview

The COVID-19 outbreak: an update on the SARS-CoV-2 virus

Published on March 11, 2020   12 min

Other Talks in the Series: Research and Clinical Interviews

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%. If you're 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%.

The COVID-19 outbreak: an update on the SARS-CoV-2 virus

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