Coronavirus vs. The Flu

I came across a blog post this morning in which a question was asked that gave me pause. Not because I saw the validity of it, but more that it seemed a bit off-base. However, I’m not a history buff so perhaps there really is something to what this person was asking. I’m presenting a brief from the post for readers to ponder.

So, it was just reported that the number of coronavirus cases crossed the 200,000 threshhold. However, what is not being widely reported is that 32 million Americans have had the flu (so far). That’s 200k vs 32 million.

Here’s my question. Why is the nation in lockdown over the coronavirus, but not over the flu.  In fact, the flu (or any other infectious disease for that matter) has never caused the country to be on lockdown.  Not even the H1N1 global pandemic of 2009, with 60 million Americans infected, shut down the country.

So what do you think? Is there something to what this person has written? Or is it comparing apples and oranges?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

39 thoughts on “Coronavirus vs. The Flu

    • “CDC estimates that between about 2,500 and 6,000 2009 H1N1-related deaths occurred between April and October 17, 2009. The mid-level in this range is about 3,900 2009 H1N1-related deaths.”

      Also — While these numbers are an estimate, CDC feels that they present a fuller picture of the burden of 2009 H1N1 disease on the United States.

      And — CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. It appears that this novel virus is much easier to contract. I think the choice to shelter in place right now is correct. Unfortunately the Gov of a number of states , Trump sycophants, has delayed this action and thousands of young siring breakers gathered in Florida to possibly be one infected and pass it on to the various states that they came here from. Shame.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. No doubt some bright spark will have the figures to hand on this.I remember (not first hand experience) that the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic was a killer in the same way that the coronavirus kills. Normal flu can hit many more people but isn’t a killer strain, though the weather can make it so for certain age groups. The H1N1 strain was declared a pandemic because it was a killer strain that I think took 4000 Americans. I fear you’re way past that this time.I hope the warmer weather might chase it away soon.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Spanish Flu (actually from Kansas, USA) – like most flus – had 3 pulses. The first pulse was not bad. Then it mutated. The second pulse was the mass killer… mostly because of massive transmission carried out as millions of people were on the move. The third pulse was deadly, too, but the transmission highway was far less, meaning we didn’t have people traveling and being in proximity like existed for the 2nd pulse.

      This is not like Covid-19, with the exception that it is easily transmitted and it can result in pneumonia- like symptoms that kills.

      Liked by 7 people

  3. Off the top of my head, from the reading I’ve done (and I’d welcome corrections if I’m wrong, other sources, etc.): (1) Coronavirus has a much higher fatality rate than the flu. Estimates on the former are hard to pin down accurately, because without thorough testing (accurate counting of who *doesn’t* have it) they’re likely to be too high. But I’m hearing estimates between 1% and 3.5%, which is 10x to 35x higher than the 0.1% of normal flu. (2) We don’t have a vaccine yet — with the flu, we can inoculate especially the most vulnerable, but hopefully also enough of the population to greatly reduce how many get it, and thus how much it spreads. (3) Coronavirus spreads asymptomatically for several days — which combined with lack of testing, means people spread it without realizing they need to take precautions.

    When you put all those factors together, the best weapon we have against coronavirus is temporary physical distancing to flatten the curve. Maybe when testing is widespread and gives fast results, maybe when we have a vaccine, we won’t need to do this any more. But right now, we absolutely do. Look at the difference between countries who do it, vs. those who don’t, and those who did it early and aggressively vs. those who did it late — the numbers tell the tale.

    Liked by 9 people

  4. Death rate from H1N1: 0.02% – killed 12,500 people
    Death rate from Covid-19: 3 – 4% and for certain at risk groups upwards of 8 – 10%, already killed 5300 and predicted to kill 100-200K in next 3 months.

    H1N1: within 2 weeks of first case, national health emergency declared and CDC at the table leading the response. PCR testing designed and released in less than 2 weeks from 1st case. Candidate vaccine started within 6 days of 1st case. By December, 100 million doses available. About ~25% of population infected. Anti-viral treatments available, hospitals open for business, no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or medical equipment shortages for front line workers treating H1N1 patients.

    Covid-19: first case identified December 31st in China, 1st case US January 20th. Flawed test available mid February but still an ongoing problem March 6th with very limited supplies. No candidate vaccine, much more virulent, different at risk groups, no CDC officials at decision tables, no national health emergency declared, Estimated 20-60% of total population will be infected, no anti-virals available for treatment, shortages of PPE, ventilators, hospitals in NY already overwhelmed. MASH hospitals opening up.

    Everything… literally every aspect… of Covid-19 is far, far worse a problem: from the untreatable novel virus, its infection rate, fatality rate, asymptomatic carriers and the length of time they carry and spread the contagion before the first signs and symptoms appear, to the government response to all of it. The government response has been extraordinarily poor. Ineptitude and prevarication and lying by Trump has resulted in the Federal government’s gross negligence in response to this public health crisis. They have not followed medical advice in policy but been directed by various changing beliefs and opinions in a politicized and partisan framework.

    The facts of reality have intruded upon the Government’s spin: human to human transmission can only be delayed by breaking the transmission highway. Doing too little will push all results – including economic concerns – in the direction of greater harm to the nation and lengthen the recovery time. Because of this failure of government to follow medical advice and expertise, this means people will determine the scope of this crisis by their physical proximity and infectious measures for social interactions, whether that proximity to others occurs at work, at church, at events, while shopping, while being outside.

    This pandemic is here and it looks today like it will make the H1N1 seem like the Good Ol’ Days. Trump and his team have made this pandemic even worse not just for Americans but for the lasting effects on the economy and the country. This is what happens when too many people put their trust in an ideologue over and above science and empower that person to pretend he knows what he’s talking about and take actions on beliefs rather than facts. But we ALL get to pay the price for this gross negligence in civic duty, letting ourselves be fooled by a con man and his gang of enablers and giving them political power to help them kill us.

    Liked by 11 people

  5. Wuhan, China had to build TWO 10,000 bed hospitals in two weeks to care for all the C19 patients who presented with serious cases. They actually accomplished this feat, and while thousands of people died, at least they received reasonable care while they were alive. If those extra beds were not available in barely no time, those death figures would probably have been much higher. The main thing is, the government recognized the risk, and responded appropriately.
    Europe was slow to respond, and their numbers show it. Canada, fortunately for us so far, responded much quicker, and while our numbers are still growing, our rates are far from what the numbers are in the USA, even correcting for a 10 times larger population there. I’m not saying places like NYC should have started building emergency hospitals, though the need is now obvious, but all kinds of things could have been done much sooner. But what about the rest of the USA? Why are there still states that are doing basically nothing?
    TRUMP! He is so worried about being re-elected that he is signing his own death sentence. Money is still more important than lives. America has the worst record for C19 cases in the world, and it probably will not be long before it has the highest death rate. Way to go, Donnie! For he’s a fat ugly nincompoop!
    As far as flu versus C19, most of the facts have pretty much been said. While related to birdflu and SARS, it is completely new, and probably already in the process of mutating. Good luck to us. We may never need a nuclear war…

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I think it’s clear that this coronavirus (there are a number of them) is far deadlier than the flu. We also know that many people who die from the flu have declined to be vaccinated; if they had been, the death rate would be far lower. Unfortunately, we’re at least a year away from having a vaccine for COVID-19.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I had a slightly similar conversation with a gentleman the other day, outside—on my way out to my car and to my post office and two other necessary errands—and believe me, we were at least 15-20 feet apart at the time. I had spooked him because I opened my front door just as he was walking by in the corridor. It was pure random coincidence. As I locked my door I apologized that our 2-second crossing wasn’t at least 6-ft apart. His response to me?

    Ahh, don’t worry. All this has been blown way out of proportion.

    I simply stated “Well, nevertheless stay safe and careful.” Then he began going on about how and why this paranoia and panic about a flu was getting out of hand. Yes, I kid you not. 😲 As he began his spill about the ridiculousness of shut-down, Stay-at-Home order, etc, I knew immediately he was one of those thousands upon thousands here in Dallas and throughout Texas that are the typical Rebels I wrote about in my latest blog-post. I cut him off, but did so politely. Told him that when our paths crossed again (15-20 feet apart!) that I’d want to hear the rest of his (erroneous) explanation. I honestly hope our paths do NOT cross for a long, LONG time; like maybe ‌in August?

    Obviously Nan, your blogger here is not an epidemiologist, virologist, or probably even a medical doctor or RN. Your person is just like my 50-60 year old neighbor here: they know better than the true experts. Sadly, this modern trend of killing/undermining our true experts, professionals, scientists, scholars, etc, has happened for several reasons, but primarily because of two:

    1) The advent of the internet/world-wide-web and mass social-media platforms promoting exponentially self-identified “experts.” This is further perpetuated by the fact that those careers, those lifetime studies, research, findings, hard-earned accolades by the true experts taking many, many years of accountability of peer-reviewed successes and failures, are ignored or undermined by the less informed general public’s short attention-spans while on social-media platforms. And…

    2) The increasing numbers of those said experts, professionals, scientists, scholars, becoming increasingly DETACHED from contact and dialogue with the general public. They most often do not correspond near enough—as once done the last century or more—with the general populace helping the average layperson to better understand.

    Now of course this is merely two brief reasons of a much bigger, more complex condition and dynamics of our precious, democratic institutions of science and education being dismantled or wrongly discredited. However, these are certainly at least two of the reasons in my humble opinion. 😉 As a result, we have way too many Americans without a basic knowledge and understanding of a Novel COVID-19 airborne virus that is unbelievably contagious and quickly lethal!

    Your person here along with my neighbor are VERY DANGEROUS to society right now!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hey Professor. At least that Reverend Horton Heat DID finally accept reality and cancel all of his concerts well into the summer. So even the rebels can see the light (a friend is a fan who keeps abreast of his doings)

      Liked by 2 people

  8. The fools will get us all killed.
    My state, Floriduh, just put in the stay at home order tonight….but ..wait for it….it exempts churches!

    I would not care if the whole lot of them went, hugged, shook hands and crowded next to each other, but they affect the rest of us and will cause others to die. Some mainstream churches have closed, but, actually they may open up now, since they are exempt.

    And I so wish trump would have his huge rallies and pack those people in too…all lathered up and breathing heavily, but again they spread it to the innocent and the sane.

    I read the other day that most of the human race is functionally insane, meaning they can dress themselves and consume, but they use neither reason or logic in their thinking.

    Liked by 5 people

    • HA! Wonder if the person who made that last remark was using a particular individual as reference … ??? 😈

      As for the “Floriduh” churches … not to worry. God will keep them safe from any old nasty virus! You’ll be safe. 😜

      Liked by 3 people

    • Yes Mary, as Nan put so appropriately, they think, say, pray… Our moving, living Holy Spirit is the Disinfectant Killer of ALL PLAGUES, diseases, and ailments! HAH!

      Well, with the exceptions of Water to Blood, Boils, Darkness, Locusts, Hail, fat Toads, Gnats/Lice, Flies/Mosquitoes, dead Livestock, widespread death of Firstborns, and… and… oh what is it?

      OH YEAH! Science. 😄

      Liked by 2 people

    • Churches are emerging as a major amplifier of the epidemic in the US. I’ve seen several cases of churches around the country that held group events in defiance of social distancing orders, infecting dozens of people in each case. And many, many churches are staying open and encouraging group attendance when everything else has been closed down.

      Let’s hope the general public sees the pastors’ arrogance and disdain for both the rules and the lives of others, recognizes how many deaths were facilitated by that behavior — and draws the appropriate conclusions.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Especially true if this turns out to be the game changer. The key to vaccine being a game changer is if most of us stay uninfected first, and such gatherings because of physical proximity we know are the means by which the virus spreads not only to those who attend but then a high probability of infecting every surface they touch after leaving, every person they come into contact with, every door handle, every elevator button, every banister, every grocery cart, every transit pole, every key pad fdor debit sale, and so on, and so on, and so on… multiplied by every person there.

        Liked by 2 people

        • The weak point in the spread of this infection, partly due to news sources, is the focus on sneezing and coughing (and whether masks will help). As a result, people tend to overlook all the other sources of potential infection that you mention.

          Of course, when we’re talking about “the faithful,” it’s all different. Because God …

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I see this virus as one of nature’s great levelers. I suspect by the time we have an antidote to this it will be nearly over, and perhaps mutated into something else for which we have no cure. sigh.

    Stuff like this brings out the loonies but also the heroes. im just glad we have the heroes as a kind of counterweight. .

    Liked by 3 people

    • Indeed it does bring out heroes like the Navy man who was fired because he tried to protect his men on that carrier with 90 some cases of the virus and spoke the truth and called out for help.
      I would imagine the despicable one was behind that.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. No need to mince words. That post is nonsense and the person who wrote it is either an idiot or malignant.

    1) Covid-19 is spreading with explosive speed. At the beginning of March, the US had about 100 confirmed cases; by the end of the month it had well over 100,000. How many will there be in another month? The point is not how many cases there are now — the point is, we can see where this is heading and the need to take drastic action quickly.

    2) As others have pointed out, based on the available data, the mortality rate is much higher. Even if it is only 1%, if the virus eventually infects most of the US population (which would be practically inevitable if drastic action is not taken), that would mean over three million deaths, making this by far the deadliest disaster in US history.

    3) Such a large number of people coming down with a potentially deadly disease in a short time would overwhelm and devastate the health-care system, possibly killing off horrific numbers of doctors and nurses (who are constantly exposed) and damaging US health-care capabilities for a generation. We can already see the beginnings of this in New York and some foreign countries.

    4) The effects of the flu can be limited by vaccination. We don’t have a vaccine for covid-19 yet, and probably won’t for at least a year and a half. Some drugs show some promise for treating the symptoms, but we won’t know for sure until clinical trials are completed, which will take weeks at least.

    5) Flu tends to be seasonal — it doesn’t spread as well in hot weather. The limited data we have from covid-19’s spread in Saudi Arabia and Africa suggests that its spread is not similarly limited by heat.

    It’s not apples and oranges. It’s apples and bowling balls.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Maybe I’m just shallow.
    To me, this question is easy to answer and you’ve got a parcel of good ones in comments. I think I had the flu last year and I’ve had it in years past. Since I’m former military/DoD, I see the flu shot and other inoculations as precautions worth taking, but sometimes another strain gets me.
    I hope the numskull who asked the question (and similar others) read your blog.
    I do worry about the economy. But, as a retired old fart, my advice regarding retirement (and it relates to the situation) is you need two things: enough money and the healthiest body/mind you can arrange for. And health trumps money every time (pun intended).

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Covid 19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 majorly infects the lower respiratory tract that causes serious respiratory illness like pneumonia. The fatality rate is very high. Common flu is curable if treated appropriately and has a very low fatality rate. Therefore, shut down, in this case, is not advisable, Covid 19 pandemic is caused by a virus whose complete structure and biology is still under research. Its origin is still to be acertained, we have no effective medications and vaccination, as like that we have for common flu, hence, in this scenario lockdown is 100% a correct decision.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. From my neck of the woods, bats have now been identified as the viral source.

    Also, it took 80 days for the US to go from 1 to 500,000 positive cases. It took 18 days to then go from 500,000 to 1,000,000. This demonstrates the algorithmic nature of infection. In Marion, Ohio, the Corrections facility has about 80% positive inmates out of about 2,000; of these 80%, nearly 9 in 10 have no symptoms! This is important because most public testing is often done based on showing symptoms first (like taking temperatures before admittance). Additionally, there could be a very large pool of people in the community acting as a contagion but having no clue for weeks that they are an active carrier spreading the virus. And this is important to know when it comes to how we behave as restrictions are lifted: do not trust the lack of symptoms as an indication of being clear of the infection in either the near future or until a vaccine is available.

    Also, some references are being made about Sweden as an example as if the lack of social restrictions or loose rules doesn’t have that much of an impact. In fact, the death rate from SARS-CoV-2 is about 4 times greater than Canada and they are still at the low end of the algorithmic curve.

    Finally, some stats are coming from Italy and Spain that the infection rate is surprisingly stable across all age groups. We usually hear about death rates being high at the elderly end – some long term care homes here in Ontario have a 50%+ fatality rate – and this is true in the sense that compromised people tend to fare worse after infection, and older people tend to have much higher rates of being compromised! (That’s why they are in these long term care homes to begin with.) Outside of these hot spots, the general rate of fatality is well under 1%, meaning the self-isolating policies are working far, far better than in places like Sweden. New Zealand

    But to be clear, death rates from those who are in peak physical condition – from children to adults – is still in the 1-2.5% range. This may seem quite low as a percentage but looms large when you do the math for every age group as raw numbers of populations. The ER docs I’ve spoken to are truly shocked and dismayed when otherwise perfectly health children and fit adults die in a relatively short period of time even after being put on a respirator (which has its own set of challenges in response to this particular virus, meaning doctors are learning as they go what the guidelines for settings should be), and so it is particularly difficult for these doctors to have so little to offer other than basic caring and words of condolences for so many parents and family members. I really feel for these doctors because to keep going to work means teaching themselves that they cannot invest the same amount of caring for each patient without it taking a very high personal toll by feelings of helplessness. Nurses and other direct care providers seem to fare much better emotionally, which, to be honest, doesn’t surprise me all that much.

    Finally, no one has handled all this better than Taiwan and the world can learn a very important lesson on how to prepare and act properly for the next pandemic, including (from a Foreign Relations report) “vigorous measures for screening, testing, contact tracing, and enforcing quarantines.” (And yes, Nan, this includes mandatory masks as well as strict precautions!) 23 million people, 400 cases, 6 deaths… nearly 3 times better and with fewer restrictions than New Zealand, a country that also did a stellar job protecting its citizens. Taiwan has 15% of the population the US has, but 1/100,000th the death rate. That is the difference public policy makes and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything other than good public health policies. That’s why we can point to the government of the US (and to a lesser extent many western countries) as truly terrible stewards of public health policies. That’s what these facts reveal. For any concerned citizen, these facts demonstrate the need for a complete overhaul.


    • Thank you for this, tildeb.

      I’m going to beat the drum here as I’ve done elsewhere — we need TESTING! Not just for symptomatic people but for EVERYONE! As has been reported, many have NO symptoms yet are carrying– and can spread– the virus.

      Yet “our” government officials (as in so many other situations related to this pandemic) are dragging their feet instead of making this a PRIORITY! Certainly there are shortages of qualified labs, but isn’t it interesting that when something is in the back pocket of a politician, things can move quite rapidly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And it has to be ongoing testing… test on Saturday, get the virus at church on Sunday, get the negative results on Monday (if you’re lucky)… go to work thinking you’re clear… and so on.

        Liked by 1 person

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