The head of the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard University, Marc Lipsitch, estimates that the new coronavirus is here to stay for a long time. It should infect 40% to 70% of the world population over the course of 1 year. He analyzes that Covid-19 (respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus) has a mortality rate in the range of 2% and spreads quickly due to having mild symptoms or even being asymptomatic. Based on that, he believes it can become a seasonal disease.
Marc Lipsitch spoke in an interview with the North American magazine The Atlantic. The researcher says that the coronavirus, as well as the flu – which usually threatens the lives of people with chronic health problems and old age, in most cases infects people unnoticed. Overall, 14% of people with the flu have no symptoms. This percentage is still unknown at Covid-19, but it should be at the same level, according to the epidemiologist.
Coronaviruses have been known since the mid-1960s and generally circulate only between animals. They are similar to influenza viruses in that they both contain similar genetic codes.
Scientists say that coronaviruses evolved from humans to maximize their own spread. Two previous outbreaks of the virus – Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) – were highly fatal to humans, with a mortality rate of 10% and 34%, respectively.
Despite the lower mortality rate, Covid-19 has so far resulted in more deaths (2,942) than Sars and Mers combined (1,632). This is because, unlike the versions of coronavirus that caused previous outbreaks, Covid-19 is often not perceived for not having symptoms, which means that many of the infected do not seek treatment in time.
Influenza viruses, which are “milder”, kill less than 0.1% of infected people, but are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.
Two months after the outbreak of the new coronavirus, at least 85,995 people were infected in 61 countries. Most of the infected and dead records were in China, the epicenter of the pathogen. In Brazil, 2 cases have been confirmed.
“With its potent mix of characteristics, this virus is different from the majority that captures popular attention: it is deadly, but not very deadly. This makes people sick, but not in a predictable and uniquely identifiable way. Last week, 14 Americans confirmed the contamination on 1 ship in Japan, despite feeling good. The new virus may be more dangerous because, it seems, sometimes it may not cause any symptoms ”, the researcher told the magazine.