(COVINGTON, La.) — The flare-up of the Wuhan coronavirus in China has earned media attention and concern that the disease will spread. However, is the virus capable of killing vast majorities of populations worldwide?
To put in perspective what exactly this would be like, the 2011 science fiction film Contagion shows the possibility of how quickly a disease can spread. In the movie, the nipah virus emerged from a pig mingling with a bat in Malaysia. From Malaysia, the virus spread from human to human through direct physical contact. Before anyone could even blink, half the world was dying from the virus.
Though Contagion is only a film, the idea that some viruses can spread from species to species is a proven fact. However, the speed at which it spread across the world is unfathomably unlikely.
There could be some overreaction to the coronavirus. The flu, on average, kills about 291,000 to 646,000 people worldwide. The coronavirus has reportedly killed only 362 people so far. So why are we so intrigued and concerned with the disease? Because it has the potential to be very damaging. The virus is relatively new and doctors want to be cautious. Chinese citizens nation-wide have been advised to wear masks when outside, and multiple flights to and from China have been suspended.
Though there are only a few reported cases of the coronavirus in the United States, the question still remains: is the virus simply a flu-like disease that poses little threat to the world? Or, is it something much more serious?
Time will tell.