Harvard scientist predicts coronavirus will infect up to 70 percent of humanity

Coronavirus.
(Image credit: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch is predicting the coronavirus "will ultimately not be containable" and, within a year, will infect somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of humanity, The Atlantic reports. But don't be too alarmed. Many of those people, Lipsitch clarifies, won't have severe illnesses or even show symptoms at all, which is already the case for many people who have tested positive for the virus.

That's precisely why he doesn't think the virus can be stopped. Viruses like SARS, MERS, and the avian flu were eventually contained in part because they were more intense and had a higher fatality rate. In other words, if you were infected by the virus that caused SARS, chances were you weren't out and about. But because the current coronavirus, known as COVID-19, can be asymptomatic, or at least very mild, there's a better chance people will likely go about their day as normal. The down side, though, is that it becomes harder to trace and prevent. In that sense it's similar to the flu, which can also be deadly, but often passes without the infected person seeking medical care.

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