A prominent pandemic expert has warned that “50 – 70 percent of the global population” could become infected with the coronavirus, and that it is “the most frightening disease” he’s ever seen.

Dr. Richard Hatchett, one of the authors of the CDC’s National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan, told the UK’s Channel 4 that “war is an appropriate analogy” for the battle against the virus, which he sees as more serious than influenza, Ebola, MERS, and SARS.

Hatchett, who is currently the head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations said that the seriousness of the disease cannot be overstated “because of the combination of infectiousness, and a lethality that appears to be many-fold higher than the flu.”

“I think the most concerning thing about this virus is the combination of infectiousness and the ability to cause severe disease or death.” Hatchett said.

“We have not since 1918, the Spanish Flu, seen a virus that combined those two qualities in the same way.” He added.

Hatchett, who was also a White House Homeland Security Council member under George W. Bush, continued “We have seen very lethal viruses. We have seen certainly, Ebola, or Nipah, or any of the other diseases that CEPI, the organisation that I run, works on – but those viruses had high mortality rates – I mean, Ebola’s mortality rate in some settings is greater than 80%. But they don’t have the infectiousness that this does. They don’t have the potential to explode and spread globally.”

“I don’t think it is a crazy analogy to compare this to World War II. The World Health Organisation is using those kinds of terms. They have seen what this virus is capable of doing.” Hatchett urged, noting that the virus has the “potential to cause a global pandemic if we’re not already there.”

Hatchett’s warning comes as the total US cases exceeded 500, with the death toll hitting 21.

In Europe, Italy reported a second straight 1000+ jump in cases, and a death toll jump of 60%. The country has been the hardest hit outside of China, with the mortality rate in Italy now reaching an unprecedented 5%.

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