News from the FDA/CDC

China’s health authorities release large coronavirus case series



The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released the largest case series to date for novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), and a summary of key findings appears in JAMA.

  • The virus, which spread from a single city to a whole country in only 30 days, has so far has caused over 72,314 cases as of Feb. 11, 2020, and 1,023 fatalities (2.3%) overall.
  • The age distribution shows that most of the cases (87%) occurred in patients aged 30-79 years, while 10% were in patients 29 years and younger and 3% at 80 years and older.
  • Following the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003, the Chinese government adjusted its epidemic response protocol. For example, according to the summary, while there were 300 cases and 5 deaths with SARS before the Chinese government reported it to the World Health Organization, there were only 27 cases and no deaths with COVID-19 before it was reported to that agency.
  • A major goal, the authors wrote, is to buy enough time for scientific research, hopefully before the disease has become too widespread.

The summary argues that, while some measures the Chinese government has taken could be seen as extreme, the overall benefits and lives saved outweigh the potential infringement on civil liberties. It also suggests that countries need to work together in situations like this because disease pathogens do not respect geopolitical borders.

SOURCE: Wu Z, McGoogan JM. JAMA. 2020 Feb 24. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.2648.

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