Is Coronavirus Actually Just like the Flu? This is a Comparability | Well being Information


By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter


MONDAY, March 2, 2020 (HealthDay Information) — President Donald Trump drew a direct comparability between the seasonal flu and the brand new coronavirus in his first press convention on COVID-19 final week, saying that Individuals may need extra to concern from flu than the headline-making virus.

However a better comparability of the 2 viruses creates a extra worrisome image of what may occur if COVID-19 turns into widespread in the US, infectious illness specialists say.

The brand new coronavirus is extra infectious than the flu and seems to strike with rather more severity in sure susceptible teams.

On the identical time, there aren’t any therapies readily available for COVID-19 as there are for the seasonal flu, specialists added.

Initially, estimates on the demise price in China hovered round 2%, however a report revealed final week within the New England Journal of Medication arrived at a demise price of 1.4%. And main well being specialists wrote in an accompanying editorial that many gentle instances have been missed, driving the demise price down nearer to round 1%.

The demise price related to a typical flu season is round 0.1%, in line with the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

The obvious demise price of the brand new coronavirus is extra according to pandemic flu strains, the place a brand new mutation causes the flu virus to change into extra contagious and harmful, specialists defined.

For instance, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, attributable to the primary emergence of the H1N1 flu pressure, had a demise price higher than 2.5%, in line with the CDC.

“Influenza would not have the identical mortality price proper now as COVID-19,” stated Dr. Aaron Glatt, an professional with the Infectious Ailments Society of {America}. “Each could be deadly. There’s an terrible lot extra flu round, but it surely’s thank God not as harmful as COVID-19.”

Older of us rather more in danger

There’s one vital distinction — COVID-19 seems to be most dangerous to outdated folks or these with underlying well being issues that make them extra inclined to an infection or pneumonia, Glatt added.

“No baby has died of COVID-19,” Glatt stated. “There have been tons of of instances and never one baby below the age of 10 has died from COVID-19.”

By comparability, 125 youngsters in the US have died from the flu this season, the CDC says.

One different vital distinction: The brand new coronavirus seems to be extra infectious than the seasonal flu, specialists stated.

Folks carrying the brand new coronavirus seem to unfold the an infection, on common, to an extra 2.2 folks, federal well being {officials} stated in a current letter within the New England Journal of Medication.

That is once more on par with the pandemic 1918 Spanish flu, through which every contaminated individual, on common, handed the virus on to between two and three folks, stated Dr. Waleed Javaid, director of an infection prevention and management at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York Metropolis.

That determine for the common seasonal flu is round 1.three new folks contaminated for each individual with the flu, in line with a 2014 paper in BMC Infectious Ailments.

The 1957 (1.6), 1968 (1.8) and 2009 (1.5) influenza pandemics additionally had decrease an infection charges than the coronavirus, in line with information from that paper.

Folks additionally should not assume that the coronavirus will fade as winter turns to spring turns to summer time, as occurs with the seasonal flu, stated Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology with the Harvard T.H. Chan College of Public Well being.

“As a virus new to people, [the coronavirus] will face much less immunity and thus transmit extra readily even outdoors of the winter season,” Lipsitch added. “Altering seasons and college trip might assist, however are unlikely to cease transmission.

“Like pandemic flu, it would transmit extensively outdoors of season,” Lipsitch famous.

Each the brand new coronavirus and the flu unfold in the identical manner, primarily by droplet transmission, Javaid stated.

“If I sneeze or I cough, small respiratory particles fly into the air about three to six ft and fall to the bottom,” Javaid stated. “Inside these three to six ft, folks can get uncovered.”

When these droplets land on a floor, they are often picked up by somebody’s hand touching that floor. If the individual touches their eyes, nostril or mouth, the virus could be transmitted thorough the mucous membranes, Javaid defined.

“All of us contact our faces greater than 20 instances an hour. Each 4 or 5 minutes we’re touching our face. I touched my face twice speaking to you, already,” Javaid stated.

Carriers with out signs

In one other similarity, folks carrying both virus can stroll round with out displaying any energetic signs.

As many as three out of Four folks carrying the seasonal flu haven’t any signs, in line with a 2014 British examine revealed in The Lancet.

Folks contaminated with both virus is likely to be contagious earlier than signs develop, making it tough to regulate their unfold, Javaid stated.

When signs happen, COVID-19 seems to be extra akin to the frequent chilly than the flu. Coronavirus signs embrace fever, cough and shortness of breath, all of which can seem between two and 14 days after publicity, the CDC says.

The flu has these signs in addition to sore throat, muscle aches, complications and fatigue, the CDC says.

Folks with the flu have one vital benefit, in that antiviral medication like Tamiflu can be found to scale back the size and severity of their sickness, Glatt famous.

No comparable antiviral is but obtainable to deal with COVID-19. Nevertheless, a coalition of European researchers discovered there are as many as 31 authorised antiviral medication that would doubtlessly be efficient towards COVID-19.

Repurposing these medication as a COVID-19 remedy would have “a considerably larger likelihood of success to market as in contrast with creating new virus-specific medication and vaccines, and a considerably decreased value and timeline to medical availability,” the researchers wrote within the Worldwide Journal of Infectious Illness.

Glatt stated he is not optimistic that an antiviral that is efficient towards the coronavirus will probably be discovered shortly.

“I doubt, though there’s a number of effort being put into it, that we’ll give you an antiviral straight away for the therapy of COVID-19,” Glatt stated. “Who is aware of, however I would not rely on that.”

By the identical token, there is a vaccine for the flu, however a vaccine for coronavirus will not be obtainable for a yr on the earliest, in line with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments.

On condition that, the perfect prevention for the coronavirus seems to be the identical as for the frequent chilly, specialists stated — wash your palms incessantly, keep away from contact with sick folks, cowl your cough or sneeze together with your elbow to forestall hand contamination, and keep residence in the event you’re ailing.

Individuals who have persistent sicknesses ought to ensure that their illness is below management, to forestall their an infection threat, Javaid stated. For instance, individuals who have diabetes ought to ensure that their diabetes is below management.

The World Well being Group has extra about COVID-19.

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