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Media hype? If the flu is worse than the coronavirus, why all the panic?

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Is the media hype the problem?

We are being told the flu is worse. Panic is unwarranted. Hoarding toilet paper is ridiculous. At the same time, the entire nation of Italy just locked down, and governments around the world are imposing unprecedented measures. Why such steps when the flu is worse? Should we be worried? 

Much of the public response has been irrational, like the buyout of toilet paper. However, some concern is warranted, given the danger coronavirus poses to at-risk individuals.

Much of the public response has been irrational, like the buyout of toilet paper. However, some concern is warranted, given the danger coronavirus poses to at-risk individuals.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/10/2020 (4 months ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Coronavirus, media, danger, panic

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Should we be worried about coronavirus when the flu is worse? The answer is yes, because coronavirus is worse than the flu, especially depending on your age. Let's discuss. 

There is a major pushback against the public panic over coronavirus. Doctors and other experts are telling us not to panic, that worry and hoarding are unwarranted. They say the seasonal flu is worse. But the public is having a hard time accepting this advice when entire nations are closing their borders and quarantining millions. 

Here's why. 

Seasonal flu kills about half a million people each year. The number varies by a few hundred thousand year after year. But there's a vaccine for the flu, and medical infrastructure takes flu season into account. We know there are usually two seasonal strains, A and B, and its worse during the winter than the summer. It's a known factor. 

Coronavirus, specificially COVID-19, the strain responsible for the current alarm, is an unknown factor. So far, it kills more people it infects than the flu does. This tells us that once it spreads globally, it will be worse than the flu because more people will die. But coronavirus does not kill all people in equal measure. Children seem to be largely unaffected, while the elderly are dying at a rate of 15 percent. And that 15 percent fatality rate is serious and frankly, unprecedented in recent times. 

Worse, there is no vaccine for coronavirus, it is just beginning to spread, and it will have a massive impact on healthcare infrastructure. In fact, coronavirus will overwhelm the infrastructure everywhere it spreads. The world just isn't ready and doesn't have the spare capacity to handle the disease. Coronavirus spreads long before it can be detected and is believed to be spreading uncontrolled in the United States. 

Perhaps the greatest concern about coronavirus is that it will mutate. It has already mutated once, and it will mutate again, and again, and again, just like the flu does. And sooner or later a deadlier strain will emerge and it will kill even more people than the current strain. It is only a matter of time. 

So, while the public is advised not to panic over coronavirus, the public measures such as the closure of borders, public venues, quarantines, and so on are all warranted. These measures slow the transmission of the disease, even if they cannot stop it. By slowing the spread, we buy time for the development of a vaccine. 

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Again, the standard advice applies. Don't freak out, not even if you are in a vulnerable category. Wash your hands, don't touch your face, avoid personal contact, and public gatherings. Be prepared for the closures of schools, workplaces, and other public spaces. Be prepared for an economic downturn, and especially for hourly workers, the possibility of lost time and wages. Business owners will be affected. 

More good advice includes getting your flu shots. The fewer people with complications from the flu, the more room we have for treating coronavirus cases. 

Within the next several months, a vaccine will be developed and distributed, beginning with those most at risk. Get the vaccine. 

Finally, let us pray for the healing of the sick and the salvation of the world. 


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