Because only a small number of contained cruise ship passengers have died and only 0.001% of China’s average 25,000 deaths a day are from the virus.
A leading Harvard doctor has claimed that coronavirus isn’t anywhere near as fatal as people fear, saying the real death rate is less than 1 percent – far lower than the World Health Organization’s alarming figures of 3.4 percent.
Dr Jeremy Samuel Faust, emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, said people should not be anxious about the outbreak and stop hoarding food and masks in preparations to self-isolate, in a post he penned for Slate.
Initial reports suggested about two to three percent of people who get the disease will die, similar to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which wiped out over 50 million people worldwide.
While directors of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have given a lower rate of 1 percent.
However, Faust said that the real case fatality rate, known as CFR, is actually lower than each of these reports.
He said that looking at the Diamond Princess ship gives a better indication of how fatal the disease is than global statistics, because it provided a controlled environment to study how the disease spread.
‘A quarantined boat is an ideal—if unfortunate—natural laboratory to study a virus. Many variables normally impossible to control are controlled,’ wrote Faust.
‘We know that all but one patient boarded the boat without the virus. We know that the other passengers were healthy enough to travel. We know their whereabouts and exposures.’
Around 705 passengers out of the 3,711 on board the boat caught coronavirus.
More than half did not show any symptoms or signs of illness.
Six people from the boat have died, giving a death rate of 0.85 percent, Faust said.
However, he added that not a single death among passengers has been in a person under 70, showing the rate is lower still in younger cases.
‘The data from the Diamond Princess suggest an eightfold lower mortality amongst patients older than 70 and threefold lower mortality in patients over 80 compared to what was reported in China initially,’ he wrote.
‘But even those numbers, 1.1 percent and 4.9 percent respectively, are concerning. But there’s another thing that’s worth remembering: These patients were likely exposed repeatedly to concentrated viral loads (which can cause worse illness). Some treatments were delayed. So even the lower CFR found on the Diamond Princess could have been even lower, with proper protocols.’
He also cast doubt on the death toll in China, saying it is impossible to know how many people in China were already ill before being infected with the virus – and how many actually died of coronavirus and not a similar illness.
He also pointed out that 25,000 people die in China every day, while just 25 coronavirus deaths have been reported per day in the country at the height of the outbreak.
The doctor slammed the ‘frightening numbers’ which he said are not only conflicting, but massively overstate the risk to people.