Health experts predicted a coronavirus could kill tens of millions of people around the world in a warning three months before the deadly outbreak in China.
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security modeled what would happen if a deadly coronavirus reached a pandemic scale.
The analysis, which was part of a collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, looked at what would happen if a pandemic originated in Brazilian pig farms.
The simulated scenario predicted that 65 million people from all parts of the world could die within 18 months.
The Mail Online reports: Dr Eric Toner, a senior researcher at Johns Hopkins, said he wasn’t shocked when news of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in late December.
‘I have thought for a long time that the most likely virus that might cause a new pandemic would be a coronavirus,’ he told Business Insider.
‘We don’t yet know how contagious it is. We know that it is being spread person to person, but we don’t know to what extent.
‘An initial first impression is that this is significantly milder than SARS. So that’s reassuring. On the other hand, it may be more transmissible than SARS, at least in the community setting.’
Coronaviruses are infections of the respiratory tract that can lead to illnesses like pneumonia or the common cold.
One was also responsible for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China, which affected 8,000 people and killed 774 in the early 2000s.
Dr Toner’s computer simulation suggested that after six months, nearly every country in the world would have cases of coronavirus.
Within 18 months, 65million people could die. The outbreak in Wuhan isn’t considered a pandemic, but the virus has been reported in 10 different nations.
The US, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Nepal have all confirmed cases.
Dr Toner’s simulation imagined a fictional virus called CAPS – a pandemic that originated in Brazil’s pig farms in the hypothetical scenario.
The virus in Toner’s simulation would be resistant to any modern vaccine. It would be deadlier than SARS, but about as easy to catch as the flu.
His computer modelled outbreak started small, with farmers coming down with fevers or pneumonia-like symptoms.
It then spread to crowded and poverty-riddled communities in South America.
Flights were grounded and travel bookings were slashed in half. After six months, the virus had spread around the globe and a year later it had killed 65 million people
But no need to fear….the National Institutes of Health is working on a vaccine against the new virus
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it would take a few months until the first phase of the clinical trials get underway and more than a year until a vaccine might be available.