Every single day as I read through personal opinions and posts on social media regarding the coronavirus, I feel more and more frustrated. It’s not so much being frustrated with isolation orders, closures, restrictions, etc. I’m frustrated by the constant bickering and arguments about the virus itself. But more than that, it’s frustrating to read so many posts with bad information, a lack of information, or the spread of completely false information. I’m going to be as succinct as possible here.
The most common argument I’ve read:
The coronavirus isn’t as dangerous or fatal as the flu. Wrong! In this discussion, I’m speaking specifically about the number of deaths caused by or attributed to COVID-19 in the United States.
Before we look at the numbers, it’s important to consider how long the influenza season typically lasts. The flu season occurs in the fall and winter. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May.
Now, let’s take a look at the numbers for the 2018-2019 flu season.
“The CDC estimates that the burden of illnesses during the 2018–2019 season included an estimated 39-56 million people getting sick with influenza, 18-26 million people going to a health care provider for the flu, 410-740 thousand flu hospitalizations, and 24-62 thousand deaths from influenza.” https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm
When breaking it down the CDC estimates that “more than 46,000 hospitalizations occurred in children (aged <18 years); however, 57% of hospitalizations occurred in older adults aged ≥65 years. Older adults also accounted for 75% of influenza-associated deaths. An estimated 8,100 deaths occurred among working-age adults (aged 18–64 years), an age group that often has low influenza vaccination uptake.” https://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/coverage–1819estimates.htm
Important Influenza Facts:
- The number of deaths attributed to the flu is based on the fact that there is an influenza vaccine available each year. While the vaccine may not be perfect, it is preventing thousands of deaths each year.
- On average, 80% of the people who die from the flu do NOT get vaccinated. That’s statistically significant!
- While the total percentage of persons who died from the flu is low (.01% of the total population) that is still based on the fact that the “flu vaccination coverage among adults ≥18 years old was (only) 45.3%.” https://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/coverage-1819estimates.htm
Those numbers are from the most accurate source in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, let’s look at the current information for the coronavirus from the same source.
The first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the United States was on January 20th, 2020. This individual had traveled to Wuhan, China, and then returned home to the state of Washington. Upon reading his case history, you can see how difficult it was to finally diagnose his illness and the different treatment options that were used. As this brand new virus presented itself, medical professionals grappled with the correct treatment due to the lack of any prior cases and experience in the US. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2001191
Now, let’s fast forward to today, March 20, 2020. Current coronavirus numbers:
The total number of confirmed cases in the United States is now 1,528,235. Yes, this is significantly lower than the number of flu cases reported each year. But, keep reading!
The total number of deaths so far is estimated to be 91,664. Read that number again! In comparison, the estimated number of deaths caused by the flu was less than half of that number. A simple interpretation is that while it may not appear to be as widespread as the flu, a significantly larger amount of people are dying from the coronavirus. This truly speaks to the need for a vaccine.
In only 4 months, there is more than 2.5 times the number of deaths caused by or related to the coronavirus than last year’s entire flu season. And, this pandemic is far from over.
Facts don’t lie! If you’re still claiming that COVID-19 isn’t as dangerous as the flu, you’re wrong. Plain and simple.
Important coronavirus facts:
- In the US, all 50 states have confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 29 states have more than 10,000 cases each. While the stay at home orders are beginning to be lifted, the number of new confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 is holding steady.
- The numbers are not declining significantly yet. What we don’t know is how long will it stay this way? Weeks, months, or years?
- Will there be a second wave in an increase of confirmed cases now that people are venturing outside their homes more?
- And just how long will it take for a vaccine to be made? And then, how long will it take for that vaccine to be readily available to the public? Will the vaccine last for a calendar year or will we have to take multiple doses throughout the year? Will a new strain need to be formulated each year like the flu vaccination?
- Will we begin to see a new flu season that consists mostly of the coronavirus?
It’s way too early to make any resounding declarations about what is or isn’t working. But, for me, even though this is a very small look at the numbers, it’s plain to see that the number of deaths caused by or attributed to the coronavirus is substantially larger than the flu.
More importantly, we are only 4 months into this pandemic with no end in sight. What if COVID-19 sticks around for a year or more? The number of fatalities in the US alone will easily reach into the tens of millions.
There are many who state that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization) are making false claims regarding the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19. They will attempt to convince you that the numbers are being padded. They will attempt to explain away the number of deaths recorded.
Well, here’s my thinking about this. First off, I haven’t seen any proof of what they believe to be true. Additionally, all numbers regarding the flu and the coronavirus are estimations. So, whatever inconsistency that may hold true for one illness is likely to be true for the other.
Additionally, it’s more likely that the estimated number of coronavirus cases is significantly higher than what has been estimated to date. Official testing for COVID-19 didn’t occur in the US until January 20th with the individual in Washington who had returned home from a visit in Wuhan, China. Because there was a direct contact link to Wuhan, he was finally tested for the correct strain of the coronavirus and found to be positive. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/accurate-us-coronavirus-death-count-experts-off-tens/story?id=70385359
“Under-counting deaths in this particular epidemic are happening all over,” said Dr. Daniel Lopez-Acuna, an epidemiologist and former top World Health Organization official, who spent 30 years at the organization. “It’s almost inevitable.” https://abcnews.go.com/Health/accurate-us-coronavirus-death-count-experts-off-tens/story?id=70385359
You may feel like you are not at risk, you may feel like Superman, the man of steel and nothing can happen to you. But please think about all of the people around you, from those you know and those you don’t. Our personal response to this pandemic is and will be directly responsible for the total number of deaths. Yes, that includes you and me.
Wear your mask, cover your coughs and sneezes, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands thoroughly and often, eat well, exercise, and enjoy your family time while it’s mandated with the stay at home orders!
©2020 Ajae Corbett