Within the coronavirus family, COVID-19 appears to be more easily transmitted but less severe than SARS or MERS.

Like SARS and MERS, COVID-19 person to person transmission is not efficient, as this coronavirus infects the lower lungs making it less transmissible than the flu, which infects the upper airways and nose.”

While COVID-19 lab-confirmed case numbers soared from about 50 in China to more than 17,000 in at least 23 countries in 3 weeks, the 9-month SARS outbreak only resulted in 8,098 confirmed cases.

Similarly, MERS had been circulating since 2012 with only about 2,500 known cases. However, the higher number of COVID-19 confirmed cases could be due to improved virus detection technologies over recent years.

Although most human Coronavirus infections are typically mild, mortality rates were 10% for SARS and 37% for MERS. In comparison, COVID-19 has a much lower estimated mortality rate of 2%, dropping from a high of 4.1 % in Wuhan to approximately 0.17% elsewhere in mainland China. The factors that cause some COVID-19 infections to be more severe than others still need to be determined.


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