The United State’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday said the novel coronavirus was more transmissible than the SARS virus, as the the World Health Organization branded coronavirus “public enemy number one.”
But the CDC also said the coronavirus, which has killed over 1,000 people, appeared to be less severe than SARS, saying that about 2% of people infected with the new virus have died compared with SARS where the death rate was was 1 in 10.
Still, the CDC went on to caution that the fatality rate for the new coronavirus needed to be “put in qualifications.”
“The level of illness is such that they haven’t really broadened the ability to track the milder illness, the illness that might not need to to present to care,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat during a news conference in Washington.
Schuchat also said she hoped the first group of Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, could be released from their mandatory quarantine on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the top infectious disease official in the US said on Tuesday that a coronavirus vaccine which could be actually deployed into use was “not in the mix for at least a year.”
But Anthony Fauci, the Head of the National Institutes of Health’s Allergy and Infectious Diseases division, also added that six months into the first phase of vaccine development US health officials could choose to press for the early deployment of a vaccine under “at risk” use.
“Proceeding ‘at risk’ means you invest hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to scale up on something that you hope might work,” Fauci said.
Only 319 cases have been confirmed in 24 other countries and territories outside mainland China, with two deaths: one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines.