Infectious disease specialists are warning that the coronavirus may be more contagious than the data shows, CNBC is reporting.
The virus has spread from 300 people as of Jan. 21 to more than 24,000.
“The rapid acceleration of cases is of concern,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program.
And Chinese scientists fear it has mutated into a stronger variation that is now able to spread more easily among humans.
Data concerning the virus is changing constantly and scientists now say it could take weeks before they could see just how contagious the virus really is.
But CNBC noted what scientists are seeing now is leading them to believe the virus is more contagious than the current data actually shows.
The "continued increase in cases and the evidence of human-to-human transmission outside of China are, of course, most deeply disturbing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak.”
An estimated two or more people will come down with the virus from a person who already has it, CNBC said, attributing the information to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
If so, it would make the virus more infectious that the seasonal flu and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. However, it is currently less infectious than the SARS outbreak.
But researchers at the University of Hong Kong say more than 75,000 people could already be infected with the virus. And Raymond James analyst Chris Meekins says infections are likely already above 100,000.
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