3 Things That Make The Coronavirus More Concerning Than The Flu
Ok, the memes were funny, but it's past time that we take the coronavirus seriously.
Full disclosure: I'm not here to preach to you or scare you.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's discuss the one thing that is currently consuming our conversations and social feeds. This new coronavirus results in the respiratory disease COVID-19—which is 10 times more lethal than the flu, regardless of what you've seen on social media.
So what does that mean and how does it affect you?
Well, for starters, it is officially a global pandemic and people over 60 are the most vulnerable. But these are the three key things that make the coronavirus worse than the flu.
1. You may not even know you have it.
Unlike SARS or Ebola, the new coronavirus doesn't make a sudden impact. Actually, 80% of us will only experience mild symptoms and in some cases, no symptoms at all. In most cases, people don't even know they're sick for a week or so. To understand how quickly this virus could spread, simply think about every person you've come into physical contact with or close proximity over the last five days. I'm not here to promote social distancing, but I've definitely been more mindful of who I give my hugs and handshakes to lately.
2. There's no vaccine... yet.
If you have the flu, we've got a vaccine. Some people religiously get a flu shot before the cold season ramps up, but for now, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus and experts say it could be at least a year until we see one. The preventative measures may seem ridiculous or feel like an overreach for some but the truth is it will buy society time to develop medications to suppress the disease in our most sick and vulnerable. It will also give us time to test a vaccine.
3. The heat is on.
So far the only weapon we have against the coronavirus is "social distancing." We've seen some universities cancel face-to-face classes. We've seen travel bans. We've seen festivals cancel or postpone until later in the year. Collegiate and professional athletic events are being played in front of empty arenas and the NBA just suspended the season. The timing of this unprecedented pandemic couldn't have come at a worse time of the year. It's the end of the winter season where some people are still being affected by the flu. It's also the beginning of spring and others are dealing with allergies. We're currently living in a time where the most polite sneeze will raise eyebrows in a public space. As a general rule, the common flu tends to slow in the summer months after spreading in colder drier winter temps, but since we have no evidence that the coronavirus will follow that rule we may see it go undeterred in the coming months—a time where we naturally become more active and gather in social settings.
So, wash your hands. Be smart about who you touch or share fluids with (bodily or non-bodily) and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Is there a perfect solution? No way. Can we take simple steps to ensure this thing doesn't spread as rapidly? Absolutely.
When you think about how you can help slow things down as opposed to how you can cure this thing, it seems a lot less "ridiculous" and actually makes a ton of sense. Either way, our lives may be slightly altered for the time being, but it's what's necessary to avoid giving this bug legs.
So in conclusion, be concerned and take it seriously, but don't panic.