To The Point Bulletin on SARS Jack Wheeler April 25, 2003 It is important to understand that that the actual death rate for SARS is far higher than the currently reported rate. The death rate publicly given in press reports is a percentage of the reported cases, now running at a little over 2%. The figure to focus on however is the death rate as a percentage of the recovered cases. This figure is much higher, over 10%. The reason for the discrepancy is that the disease is doubling now about every two weeks, so many people who have contracted it have not yet had time to die from it. The most frightening statistic of all is that the great pandemic of Spanish Flu in 1918, which killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people worldwide, had a death rate of 2.5%. SARS may be four times as deadly as the Spanish Flu. If you have any reason to believe you are among people who may have SARS, not only should you wear a face mask, but you must carry a packet of alcohol-based disinfectant handi-wipes at all times. Exercise extreme discipline regarding not touching your face. Most people touch their face hundreds of times a day. The SARS virus cannot penetrate unbroken skin. It is transferred through mucous membranes. You touch someone's hand, a doorknob, a toilet handle, and then transfer the virus to your face and thus inside your mouth or eyes. Avoid touching anything touched by others, and never touch your face before you disinfect your hands with the handi-wipes. SARS has the capacity to give the world economy a devastating hit. China's economy may be shattered. Hong Kong may be a ghost town. With any luck, and with vastly more sophisticated health and medical procedures than in 1918, we may not see scores of millions die. But the threat is real. Very, very real.