The Wuhan coronavirus and SARS belong to the same family, but experts say there are key differences between the 2 outbreaks
Christian Keenan/Getty Images
- A coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed 41 people and infected more than 1,200.
- The outbreak has spread to 10 other countries, including the US.
- The virus jumped from animals to people in December, likely at a Chinese wet market where live and dead animals were being sold.
- SARS was also a coronavirus. That outbreak killed 774 around the world between 2002 and 2003, and SARS also emerged in a wet market.
- Here's how the two viruses compare.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Experts called SARS "the first pandemic of the 21st century," since it spread across 29 countries. The disease hasn't been seen in humans since July 2003.So far, experts say, concerns that the Wuhan coronavirus is the next SARS are overblown. The two virus' symptoms and origins may be comparable, but their severity is not.
The new coronavirus appears to be less severe than the SARS, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday. It might be more contagious, however, given that the outbreak is spreading faster than SARS did.Eric Toner, a senior scientist at John Hopkins University offered a similar assessment: "An initial first impression is that this is significantly milder than SARS," he told Business Insider. "That's reassuring. On the other hand, it may be more transmissible than SARS, at least in the community setting."Here are some of the crucial differences between this outbreak and the SARS one 17 years ago.
Featured Digital Health Articles:
- Telehealth Industry: Benefits, Services & Examples
- Value-Based Care Model: Pay-for-Performance Healthcare
- Senior Care & Assisted Living Market Trends
- Smart Medical Devices: Wearable Tech in Healthcare
- AI in Healthcare
- Remote Patient Monitoring Industry: Devices & Market Trends
The first report of the Wuhan coronavirus came on December 31, 2019. Wuhan is a city of 11 million people in the central province of Hubei, China.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% of people impacted by SARS were age 65 or older, while the other half of infected patients varied widely in age.
SARS didn't spread as fast in its first three weeks as the coronavirus has, according to the WHO.
"One person who's been infected can suddenly infect 10, 20, 30 people," Hyzler said of the coronavirus. "So this is what makes it much more contagious and much more of a problem."
However, SARS was far more deadly, with a fatality rate of 9.6%. The new coronavirus' fatality rate has not yet been determined with accuracy, but it seems closer to 3% or 4% so far.
One reason SARS spread to so many places around the world is that Chinese authorities initially attempted to hide the outbreak from the World Health Organization.
Liu Heng, an adviser to China's cabinet, told Reuters that this time around, China announced the outbreak to the public much more immediately.
Chinese public-health experts also worked to quickly share the Wuhan coronavirus' genetic information with researchers around the globe.
By sharing information about the new coronavirus genome, scientists have been able to work together to analyze how the illness is spreading and mutating.
In the case of SARS, and probably this coronavirus outbreak too, bats were the original hosts. They then infected other animals via their poop or saliva, and the unwitting intermediaries transmitted the virus to humans.
SARS jumped from bats to weasel-like mammals called masked palm civets, then to humans.
Here are five viruses that most likely came from bats, and how the outbreaks compare.
Another major difference between the SARS outbreak and the current outbreak is that this time, Chinese authorities quickly instituted travel lock-downs.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said these efforts to quarantine cities will help Chinese authorities control the virus' spread and "minimize the chances of this outbreak spreading internationally."
When it came to SARS, it took at least four months for officials to institute any quarantine measures.
Neither SARS nor the Wuhan coronavirus has a vaccine.
The Wuhan coronavirus, unlike SARS, isn't considered a pandemic.
- Kerala's COVID-19 test positivity rate reaches 27.28% with over 42,000 new cases today
- Adani Power registers profits after a disappointing loss-making quarter last year
- Star India Network garnered a cumulative reach of 352 million in the first 26 matches
- Rabindranath Tagore Jayanti 2021: Remembering some of his greatest words
- Non-residents will have to pay tax in India if transactions exceed ₹2 crore