ASU virologist says coronaviruses are more common than people think

In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports on new deaths and illnesses associated with the coronavirus, but it is also important to note that the coronavirus in question is a new strain that scientists are still trying to understand.

One researcher at Arizona State University says the coronavirus is a lot more common than people might think. Dr. Brenda Hogue, as a virologist, has been researching the coronavirus for most of her career, and says chances are people may have had one of the four most common strains during their lifetime.

Dr. Brenda Hogue

"In humans, they cause about 30% of the upper respiratory or common colds on a seasonal basis," said Dr. Hogue.

The deadly new strain was not a surprise for Dr. Hogue, and the expert is not sounding the alarm just yet.

"China is still dealing with a very serious situation, in that we continue to see, every day, that there are increases in the number of cases, and an increase in the number of deaths. On the positive side, individuals are recovering," said Dr. Hogue.

The lab has contributed research to possible SARS vaccines, which is another deadly respiratory infection. They are also starting to work on the new strain of the coronavirus.

"Based on what we know from previous work or from the previous outbreak for SARS, it had about a 10% mortality rate. In the case of the current novel coronavirus, the mortality rate at this point, as we understand it, is at 2-3%," explained Dr. Hogue.

Dr. Hogue's lab's research could one day be used in vaccine strategy, but a vaccine could still be years away.