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WHY CORONA VIRUS IS NOT YOUR ORDINARY CASE OF FLU

By: Noa Amouyal

 

A cursory scroll through an average person’s Facebook feed is likely rife with misinformation regarding the novel coronavirus. The most popular outright lie about the disease is perhaps, “Don’t worry, it’s just a mild case of the flu.”

First, the flu can kill. In 2017, according to the Center For Disease Control, in 2017 flu-related deaths reached a spike of 80,000 in the US so even if this “fact” were true, the flu is nothing to sniff at.

 

But while the flu can be deadly, it’s no coronavirus.

 

Why?

The most obvious reason is that we have a vaccine for the flu. Yes, it won’t protect every strain of the disease but it’s very effective at containing the spread of the disease. For COVID-19, even the most optimistic reports state that a vaccine won’t be available until January.

 

On a scientific level, they have a very different makeup. Coronavirus is related to SARS and like that deadly disease can impact not only the lungs, but heart and liver as well.

 

Additionally, the virus impacts the general population in very different ways.

 

Dr. Manfred Green, University of Haifa’s International Master’s Program in Public Health and Global Health Leadership, noted in an online briefing at the end of April that COVID-19’s infection rate is around 2.5 times higher than the flu. We also people are far less likely to get infected with the flu in the warmer months. With coronavirus, though, experts still don’t’ know if this is a seasonal disease.

 

Coronavirus, sadly, is also vicious in its ability to attack the elderly – and the mortality rate among older generations infected with coronavirus is much higher than that of the flu. The CDC points out that less than 1 percent of those over 65 will die if infected with the flu. With Coronavirus? For those 60-69, more than three percent may die from the disease, and patients over 80 have a 14 percent chance of succumbing to the illness.

 

So far, over 60,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus – and that’s with a strict stay at home orders put in place. “An untamed coronavirus pandemic will only add to the death toll we already expect to see from the flu which would result in a devastating and alarming statistic that nobody wants to see,” Dr. Green warned in his briefing.

 

Most alarmingly, though, Coronavirus has the potential to be a silent killer as many who have the disease don’t even know it. The incubation period with coronavirus is about three to 14 days, with symptoms typically appearing within four or five days after exposure, Harvard Medical School notes. For those with the flu, on the other hand, people start feeling unwell one to four days after infection.

 

Yes, the two diseases have some symptoms in common like sore throat, fever, and cough but those only apply to early warning signs of the viruses or those who get a very mild case of it. That is, unfortunately, where their main similarities end.

 

So while the world figures out how to get the economy on track, for vulnerable populations like the elderly and those with a weak immune system, practicing social distancing and good hygiene is critical.

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