Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., Compares COVID-19 to SARS and MERS

Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D.

The COVID-19 infection seems to be infecting more people while maintaining a lower mortality rate than other notable outbreaks in recent years. That's the perspective offered by Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Virology at Mayo Clinic, in an interview with Fox News.

Dr. Binnicker noted that so far, COVID-19 has infected roughly 100,000 people worldwide and resulted in about 3,000 deaths—a 3% mortality rate. In contrast, the Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2012 had death rates of about 10% and 35%, respectively.

"We'll have to see how things progress over the course of the next month to year, to see what the true numbers and mortality of COVID-19 turn out to be,” Dr. Binnicker said.

At present, most coronavirus testing performed in the United States has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and some public health laboratories. As a result, Dr. Binnicker said, it may take 24 hours or even a week for a physician to receive a patient's test results.

However, over the next week, reference laboratories and possibly other clinical laboratories will begin offering testing for COVID-19. "As we start to see more testing performed, hopefully those results will be getting to the physician in a much shorter time," Dr. Binnicker said.

Ultimately, Dr. Binnicker hopes that "physicians will be getting their results the same day that they're seeing the patient. The COVID-19 outbreak should definitely keep us vigilant."

Read the full interview.

Barbara J. Toman

Barbara J. Toman is a Senior Communications Specialist at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is also the science writer for Mayo’s Neurosciences Update newsletter, which helps referring physicians to stay informed about Mayo’s treatment and research. Barbara has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2007. She enjoys international travel and cooking.