For the past few months, near-daily reports of new cases and deaths from a new type of coronavirus called MERS raised fears that another pandemic, similar to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), was looming.
That’s not the case, according to new research from France published Thursday in the British medical journal The Lancet.
A mathematical analysis of the known cases suggests that “MERS-CoV does not yet have pandemic potential,” even when looking at the worst-case scenario, according to researchers. They looked at the “reproduction value” or R-value, which is a calculation of the number of infections caused by one infected person.
If the R-value is bigger than 1, the number of infections will grow exponentially. For example, if 10 people have MERS and the R-value is two, then those 10 people would infect 20 people, and they would then infect 40 people etc., explains Chris Bauch, a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and one of the authors of an editorial accompanying the research.
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