Or the full version at The Atlantic:
Most cases are not life-threatening, which is also what makes the virus a historic challenge to contain.
The guy they're talking about is Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch. He starts out talking about the avian flu, H5N1, then compares that to more "normal" flus and Covid 19:
Those who got [H5N1] became manifestly, extremely ill. H5N1 has a fatality rate of around 60 percent—if you get it, you’re likely to die. Yet since 2003, the virus has killed only 455 people. The much “milder” flu viruses, by contrast, kill fewer than 0.1 percent of people they infect, on average, but are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.
Severe illness caused by viruses such as H5N1 also means that infected people can be identified and isolated, or that they died quickly. They do not walk around feeling just a little under the weather, seeding the virus. The new coronavirus (known technically as SARS-CoV-2) that has been spreading around the world can cause a respiratory illness that can be severe. The disease (known as COVID-19) seems to have a fatality rate of less than 2 percent—exponentially lower than most outbreaks that make global news. The virus has raised alarm not despite that low fatality rate, but because of it.
A fatality rate of 2 percent is low compared to H5N1's fatality rate of 60%. But it's exponentially higher than the usual flu rate of 0.1% that still kills hundreds of thousands per year. Lipsitch thinks this will become a world wide recurring seasonal illness. He doesn't get into things like bioweapon origins. I leave that to you.
Now here's the bad news:
At this point, it is not even known how many people are infected. As of Sunday, there have been 35 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization. But Lipsitch’s “very, very rough” estimate when we spoke a week ago (banking on “multiple assumptions piled on top of each other,” he said) was that 100 or 200 people in the U.S. were infected. That’s all it would take to seed the disease widely. The rate of spread would depend on how contagious the disease is in milder cases. On Friday, Chinese scientists reported in the medical journal JAMA an apparent case of asymptomatic spread of the virus, from a patient with a normal chest CT scan. The researchers concluded with stolid understatement that if this finding is not a bizarre abnormality, “the prevention of COVID-19 infection would prove challenging.”
See why Trump was "furious" with DoS for letting planeloads of infected people into the country?
And now tomorrow the Senate will receive a "classified briefing" on this coronavirus. You read that right: classified briefing, as in: They don't want you to know.