How the 2019 Coronavirus Compares to The Deadliest Viruses In History

Two months ago some of us had never even heard of the new Coronavirus disease that had begun to spread, but now you can’t go anywhere on the internet or even turn on the news without hearing a new update on this disease that has caused a bigger pandemic than most of us have ever seen in our lifetime.

This new virus is known to transmit easily between people, and it’s long incubation period of up to 14 days leaves a lot of time for infected people to infect others before they start to feel the symptoms themselves. These two factors make it as deadly as it has become. With more than 980K infected and over 50,000 deaths so far the mortality rate of COVID-19 sits around the 6% mark. How does this new devastating virus compare to some of the deadliest ones in history?

The below illustrations of the viruses came from History’s Deadliest Viruses Illustrated to Scale, which includes a wider range of deadly viruses.

Ebolavirus

Mortality Rate: 60–90%

Death Toll: 15,230 (11,000 just from 2014–2016 outbreak)

Incubation Period: 2–21 days

Vaccine: No

Virus Shape and Size:

Smallpox [ERADICATED]

Mortality Rate: 33%

Death Toll: 300–500 million (just in 20th century)

Incubation Period: 7–17 days

Vaccine: Yes

Virus Shape and Size:

Rabies

Mortality Rate: 100% (if left untreated)

Death Toll: 55,000 annually

Incubation Period: 20–90 days

Vaccine: Yes

Virus Shape and Size:

Influenza

Mortality Rate: 0.14%

Death Toll: 12,000–61,000 annually

Incubation Period: 1–4 days

Vaccine: Yes (only covers 40% of strains)

Virus Shape and Size:

The next three viruses are all strains of coronavirus that have emerged in this century. While MERS and SARS are deadlier than COVID-19, they were nowhere near as widespread.

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)

Mortality Rate: 37%

Death Toll: 858 total

Incubation Period: 2–14 days

Vaccine: No

Virus Shape and Size:

SARS (Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

Mortality Rate: 10%

Death Toll: 774 total

Incubation Period: 2–7 days

Vaccine: No

Virus Shape and Size:

2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Mortality Rate: 6%

Death Toll: 50,000+

Incubation Period: 2–14 days

Vaccine: No (working towards one)

Virus Shape and Size:

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