Leading US health experts predicted a coronavirus could kill tens of millions of people in a chilling warning three months before the deadly outbreak in China.
Scientists at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security modeled a hypothetical pandemic on a computer as part of research last October.
The simulation predicted 65million people from every corner of the world would be wiped out in just 18 months.
So far the highly contagious disease currently ravaging China has killed 41 people and infected more than 1,200 – but experts predict the true number to be thousands.
Dr Eric Toner, a senior researcher at Johns Hopkins, said he wasn’t shocked when news of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in late December.
So far more than 900 people have been infected worldwide in 10 different countries. But experts say the true number is probably closer to 10,000
I have thought for a long time that the most likely virus that might cause a new pandemic would be a coronavirus,’ he told Business Insider.
‘We don’t yet know how contagious it is. We know that it is being spread person to person, but we don’t know to what extent.
‘An initial first impression is that this is significantly milder than SARS. So that’s reassuring. On the other hand, it may be more transmissible than SARS, at least in the community setting.’
Coronaviruses are infections of the respiratory tract that can lead to illnesses like pneumonia or the common cold.
One was also responsible for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China, which affected 8,000 people and killed 774 in the early 2000s.
Dr Toner’s computer simulation suggested that after six months, nearly every country in the world would have cases of coronavirus.
Within 18 months, 65million people could die. The outbreak in Wuhan isn’t considered a pandemic, but the virus has been reported in 10 different nations.
The US, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Nepal have all confirmed cases.
Dr Toner’s simulation imagined a fictional virus called CAPS – a pandemic that originated in Brazil’s pig farms in the hypothetical scenario.
The virus in Toner’s simulation would be resistant to any modern vaccine. It would be deadlier than SARS, but about as easy to catch as the flu.
His computer modelled outbreak started small, with farmers coming down with fevers or pneumonia-like symptoms.
It then spread to crowded and poverty-riddled communities in South America.
Story credit: Daily Mail UK.
Categories: World News