Coronavirus 'could infect 60% of global population if unchecked', warns Hong Kong epidemiologist
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 11, ARMENPRESS The coronavirus outbreak could spread to about two-thirds of the world’s population if it cannot be controlled, a Hong Kong’s leading public health epidemiologist has warned in an interview to The Guardian.
His warning came after the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said recent cases of coronavirus patients who had never visited China could be the “tip of the iceberg”.
Chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University Prof Gabriel Leung said the overriding question was to figure out the size and shape of the iceberg.
Most experts thought that each person infected would go on to transmit the virus to about 2.5 other people. That gave an “attack rate” of 60-80%.
“Sixty per cent of the world’s population is an awfully big number,” Leung told the Guardian in London, en route to an expert meeting at the WHO in Geneva on Tuesday.
Even if the general fatality rate is as low as 1%, which Leung thinks is possible once milder cases are taken into account, the death toll would be massive.
Epidemiologists and modellers were trying to figure out what was likely to happen, said Leung. “Is 60-80% of the world’s population going to get infected? Maybe not. Maybe this will come in waves. Maybe the virus is going to attenuate its lethality because it certainly doesn’t help it if it kills everybody in its path, because it will get killed as well,” he said.