Dr Richard Hatchett, one of the many experts heading the search for a coronavirus vaccine and the chief executive officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, called the novel coronavirus the most frightening disease he has encountered in his career.
The coronavirus outbreak, which emerged in China’s central Wuhan province in December 2019, has killed more than 3,100 people across the world, and more than 90,000 people have been infected. While most of these cases were initially reported from China, the virus has now spread to at least 75 other countries.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Hatchett added that the disease is “frightening because of the combination of infectiousness and a lethality that appears to be manifold higher than the flu.” He went on to say that the combination of these two characteristics is what makes it so concerning.
According to Hatchett, viruses like Ebola and Nipah had high mortality rates but their infectiousness did not match the level of COVID-19. The world has not encountered a virus that combined those two qualities in this way since the 1918 influenza outbreak, also known as the Spanish Flu, said Hatchett.
Watch the full conversation below.