The death rate for sudden acute respiratory syndrome has more than doubled since the epidemic was detected in mid-March—and the virus is mutating, Chinese scientists said this week. Mutations could occur “very fast and easily,” the Beijing Genomics Institute said in a statement, after scientists found changes in the virus’ genetic structure just one week after its DNA was first sequenced. The death rate now stands at 5.6 percent of those infected, well above that of the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 30 million people worldwide. Scientists in the U.S. said the virus was “here to stay” as a long-term health threat. “The question is,” medical researcher Michael Osterholm told The Washington Post, “is this going to be a public-health nuisance, a public-health problem, or a public-health crisis?”
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