MUCH REMAINS UNKNOWN about the novel coronavirus ripping through China, but one thing is certain. The disease can cast a storm over the whole human body.
Such has been the nature of past zoonotic coronaviruses, ones that hopped from animals to humans like SARS and MERS. Unlike their common-cold-causing cousins, these emergent coronaviruses can spark a viral-induced fire throughout many of a person’s organs, and the new disease—dubbed “COVID-19” by the World Health Organization—is no exception when it is severe.
That helps explain why the COVID-19 epidemic has killed more than 1,800 people, surpassing the SARS death toll in a matter of weeks. While the death rate for COVID-19 appears to be a fifth of SARS, the novel coronavirus has spread faster.