On Friday, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot told CNBC’s Julianna Tatelbaum that the new strain of coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, is a lot more contagious than the flu.
Soriot said, “What we have all learned is that the virus leads to a lower mortality than the flu virus, but it’s a lot more contagious, the virus is very contagious.”
“I will not say it’s totally controlled yet, but I’m hoping that over the next few months that we will see it get under control,” he added.
Globally, the new coronavirus has sickened more than 67,000 and killed 1,526 people so far, with the United States reporting 15 confirmed cases.
On the other hand, the flu has affected more than 19 million Americans this season, resulting in nearly more than 180, 000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths.
Soriot said he is optimistic that Chinese officials will be able to combat the outbreak despite the high contagion rate of the new coronavirus. He noted that we had gotten past the outbreak of H1N1, aka swine flu, about a decade ago.
The CEO said, “The Chinese government has really swung a lot of resources, a lot of effort at controlling the disease as much as they can in the country, there’s been a lot of work already to control travel, to stop people from spreading the disease.”
“In the Hubei region, Wuhan is really controlled. This effort should have an impact over time and that’s why we believe that we’ll get past this epidemic,” he added.
Meanwhile, scientists are leaving no stone unturned in developing a vaccine for the new strain of coronavirus, which has been declared a “public health threat” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In addition, researchers are conducting clinical trials of two antivirals drugs – Kaletra and remdesivir – to treat COVID-19.
Despite the effort to develop a vaccine and treatment, some medical experts have warned that it could weeks or months to get one cleared for public use.
COVID-19 may cause mild to moderate cold symptoms in more than 80 percent of patients, according to the WHO. Over 15 percent of those ended up having complications, such as pneumonia, while around 5 percent needed intensive care.