Coronavirus – Credit CDC PHIL
Via a brief public announcement from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England we learn of the death of the second person to be infected in the current UK cluster (see WHO NCoV Update – Feb 16th).
This patient was a relative of the man who recently returned from the Middle East infected with the novel coronavirus, and reportedly had non-related immune system issues.
Here is the hospital announcement, after which I’ll return with more.
Story posted/last updated: 19 February 2013
A patient being treated for novel coronavirus at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) has died.
The patient passed away on Sunday morning in the hospital’s critical care unit. The hospital extends its sympathies to the family.
The patient was already an outpatient at QEHB, undergoing treatment for a long-term, complex unrelated health condition. The patient was immuno-compromised and is believed to have contracted the virus from a relative who is being treated for the condition in a Manchester hospital.
QEHB is working closely with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) which is currently following up other household members and contacts of this case.
QEHB does not intend to hold a press conference or make any of its experts available for interview at this time.
Of the twelve laboratory-confirmed cases, this marks the sixth fatality. While half of all confirmed cases have now died, it is too soon to assume that this virus carries with it a 50% CFR (Case Fatality Ratio).
Reports from the opening Jordan cluster in April of last year suggest that there may have been as many as 11 infections, of which only two were laboratory confirmed.
Add to that the existence of a mild case (#12 lab confirmed) - who isn’t even hospitalized – and simple fact is we don’t have enough quality data yet to determine a reasonable CFR.
Until we get a better handle on the true denominator (the total number of infections) and numerator (the actual number of deaths), any CFR estimates made today would have to be based on a good deal of guesswork and assumptions.
At this point I think it is fair to say that this virus is capable of producing very severe, even fatal illness, in a significant subset of those it infects.
But whether that subset will ultimately end up being 50%, 33%, or 10% (or perhaps less) of those infected is too soon to tell.
Later today, I’ll have eye-opening research from the journal mBio on the affinity of this NCoV to the human respiratory tract.