As fears of the coronavirus rise, and the outbreak continues across the globe, NPR reports that the United States has seen the first death from the virus in Seattle, Washington. The death comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged three U.S. cases of “community spread” — or person-to-person transmission independent of foreign travel — late Friday night.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, spoke to NBC about community spread on Saturday morning.
“When you have a community spread, someone appears, had to have been infected by someone, but you don’t know who that person was. It becomes more difficult to track down what the original source was.”
With the first U.S. coronavirus death, the total confirmed cases of the virus in the country is now over 60. However, 44 of these cases came from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, and another three cases stemmed from people who returned from Wuhan, China, the center of the global outbreak.
As reported by BBC, researchers currently believe that between five and 40 coronavirus cases in 1,000 will cause death, which is roughly 1 percent. Regardless, the publication notes that this number can vary depending on many factors, such as age, general health, and the health care system of the individual infected.
BREAKING: The U.S. reported its first death from the #coronavirus in Washington State.
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) February 29, 2020
Most cases will reportedly go unnoticed due to mild symptoms, which could lead to an exaggerated death rate. Conversely, BBC claims that counting cases that have yet to “run their course” can lead to an underestimation of the death rate due to deaths happening at a later time.
According to the publication, the unwell, elderly, and possibly men are most likely to die from coronavirus.
“In the first big analysis of more than 44,000 cases from China, the death rate was ten times higher in the very elderly compared to the middle-aged,” the publication noted.
The deaths were lowest for people under 30 years old, while they were approximately five times more likely among people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart or breathing problems.
As pointed out by statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb, even a 2 percent death date is equal to approximately 150 million people. His comment was a response to NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel, who suggested that 98 percent of people will “be fine.”
Despite fears of death from the coronavirus, Fauci claims that people in the U.S. do not yet have the change their daily habits.
“Right now the risk is still low, but this could change,” he said.