Not so novel: numbers: around COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2

A mammoth overview was just released by researchers from the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (their website is a bit slow right now so have patience).[1] It broke down important details of 44,672 RT-PCR confirmed cases from among 72,314 unique records that spanned from close to the known start of the emergence in early December, to February 11, 2020.

I’ve taken some of the key findings and put them into an infographic below. Keep in mind that although 80.9% of cases are described as mild, that leaves nearly a fifth (18.5%) of all cases in China defined as severe or critical. The critical group include all those who go on to die. Hospitalisation among more severe disease can last between 2 and 6 weeks. It has been predicted via media reports that 60% or more of a population could be infected during the initial spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus; see below).

Data from the recent distillation characteristics from among 44,672 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 due to SARS-CoV-2.[1]

While you’re here and because I really haven’t much time to spare for more blogs right now, let’s jam in a bit of info about the latest – and hopefully last – naming system so I have something to reference for people who ask.

What’s in a coronavirus name?

As we all now know and have committed to memory – riiiiIIiight??? – the virus and disease got new names on January 11th.

On February 12th AEST, the coronavirus first discovered in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China was at last given a permanent name. Up until then, it had simply been called a novel coronavirus (nCoV) and then the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

After lengthy consideration of the genetic sequence of the virus and how it related to already known coronaviruses, a specific coronavirus study group (CSG) from the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), the global authority on the designation and naming of viruses, designated this virus as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This will be the name used in all scientific literature from now on.

At the same time, the World Health Organization gave the disease in those infected by SARS-CoV-2 a distinct name as well, corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19).[3-4]

These two names are not interchangeable as one names the infectious agent and the other the outcome from infection by it.


  1. Vital Surveillances: The Epidemiological Characteristics of an Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) — China, 2020
  2. Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus: The species and its viruses – a statement of the Coronavirus Study Group
  3. WHO Director-General’s remarks at the media briefing on 2019-nCoV on 11 February 2020
  4. Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 22
  5. What’s in a Name? Why WHO’s Formal Name for the New Coronavirus Disease Matters

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