Social media has accused a leading researcher involved in the development of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 of fearmongering after he said that the novel Coronavirus is the “most frightening” disease he ever encountered in his career. Dr Richard Hatchett appeared on Channel 4 News on March 6 to warn viewers about the dangers of the deadly virus.
When Hatchett was asked whether he had a potential vested interest to drive investment for his research, he said, “It's the most frightening disease I've ever encountered in my career, and that includes Ebola, it includes MERS, it includes SARS.”
“And it's frightening because of the combination of infectiousness and lethality that appears to be manyfold higher than flu,” he further added.
Hatchett even compared the epidemic with the Spanish flu, an influenza pandemic, of 1918 which is estimated to have killed around 50 million people around the world. The researcher said that the novel Coronavirus is as dangerous as Spanish flu because it combines two qualities in a similar way.
“We have seen very lethal viruses...but they don't have the infectiousness that this virus has. They don't have the potential to explode and spread globally,” said the doctor.
Netizens were not impressed by Hatchett’s statement since the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said that the COVID-19 has killed 3.4 per cent of reported cases. They accused the doctor of “scaremongering” and “sensationalism”.
This is totally unhelpful.Corvid 19 has got higher mortality than flu but it is still only at about 3% (and that includes China, the epicentre).That means 97% survive.Spanish flu killed 50 million people with a mortality of 10% and there was no understanding of pandemics then.— Maggie Georgeson (@GeorgesonMaggie) March 6, 2020
Listen to the Chief Medical Officer not this bloke, another ‘expert’..you need to think carefully about the language you use in reporting this. Balance not sensationalism. Expect better from @Channel4News— NeilRides🌍 (@stopplasticuse) March 6, 2020
Ebola: mortality rate of 80%.— Frankity Frank (@gIaikit) March 6, 2020
Coronavirus: mortality rate of 1%.
Simple maths tells you doctor that it's not the most frightening disease he's ever encountered in his career.