Much remains unknown about the novel coronavirus ripping through China, but one thing is certain. The disease can cast a storm over the whole human body.
Such has been the nature of past zoonotic coronaviruses, ones that hopped
from animals to humans like SARS and MERS. Unlike their common-cold-causing
cousins, these emergent coronaviruses can spark a viral-induced fire throughout
many of a person’s organs, and the new disease—dubbed "COVID-19"
by the World Health Organization—is no exception when it is severe.
That helps explain why the COVID-19 epidemic has killed more than 1,800 people, surpassing the SARS death toll in a matter of weeks. While the death rate for COVID-19 appears to be a fifth of SARS, the novel coronavirus has spread faster.
Confirmed cases rose to more than 60,000 last Thursday, nearly a 50 percent jump relative to the prior day, and the tally has since increased by another 13,000. This leap reflects a change in the way Chinese authorities are diagnosing infections instead of a massive shift in the scope of the outbreak. Rather than wait for patients to...