How COVID-19 compares to seasonal flu, and why you should take it seriously

flu

(Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Darren Thackeray, Writer, Formative Content


  • The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.
  • Since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected more than 870,000 worldwide and killed more than 43,000.
  • The new coronavirus has a higher fatality rate than seasonal influenza and is more contagious.

The new coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11. Since then, it’s spread to almost every continent in the world, with more than 870,000 confirmed cases and more than 43,000 deaths, as of 1 April.

The US is currently experiencing the brunt of the outbreak, with more than 189,000 confirmed cases, followed by Italy with more than 105,000, as of 1 April. Spain and Germany are close behind, and cases in many other countries, including Iran, France and the UK, are increasing daily.

 

First reports of symptoms appeared on December 8, 2019, in Wuhan, China. By the end of the year, the WHO had been alerted about several cases of pneumonia in the province.

The novel coronavirus, later named COVID-19, was identified on January 7, 2020, just days before it caused China’s first reported death.

Coronavirus china virus health healthcare who world health organization disease deaths pandemic epidemic worries concerns Health virus contagious contagion viruses diseases disease lab laboratory doctor health dr nurse medical medicine drugs vaccines vaccinations inoculations technology testing test medicinal biotechnology biotech biology chemistry physics microscope research influenza flu cold common cold bug risk symptomes respiratory china iran italy europe asia america south america north washing hands wash hands coughs sneezes spread spreading precaution precautions health warning covid 19 cov SARS 2019ncov wuhan sarscow wuhanpneumonia  pneumonia outbreak patients unhealthy fatality mortality elderly old elder age serious death deathly deadly
The coronavirus timeline.
Image: Avetta

Severity

There is a misconception that COVID-19 is no different from common seasonal influenza. Both cause respiratory disease and are transmitted through contact, respiratory droplets and fomites (surfaces that harbour the virus following contact with an infected human).

But they vary drastically in severity. According to the WHO (based on the current available data), 80% of COVID-19 infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe (requiring oxygen) and 5% are critical (requiring ventilation). These figures are considerably higher than what is typically observed in flu.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Lethality

The speed of transmission is very important when assessing the deadliness of a virus. Influenza has a shorter incubation period (the time between infection and the onset of symptoms), so it can be diagnosed and treated more quickly.

While influenza has a shorter serial interval (the time between successive cases) and therefore spreads more easily, COVID-19 has a higher reproductive number – meaning infected individuals pass the virus onto a higher number of people.

COVID-19 is also more deadly than seasonal influenza. The crude mortality rate for COVID-19, based on confirmed cases to date, is currently estimated by the WHO to be between 3-4%, with seasonal influenza sitting well below 0.1%. However, it is important to note that these figures are heavily influenced by the availability of quality healthcare, and by case data.

Coronavirus china virus health healthcare who world health organization disease deaths pandemic epidemic worries concerns Health virus contagious contagion viruses diseases disease lab laboratory doctor health dr nurse medical medicine drugs vaccines vaccinations inoculations technology testing test medicinal biotechnology biotech biology chemistry physics microscope research influenza flu cold common cold bug risk symptomes respiratory china iran italy europe asia america south america north washing hands wash hands coughs sneezes spread spreading precaution precautions health warning covid 19 cov SARS 2019ncov wuhan sarscow wuhanpneumonia  pneumonia outbreak patients unhealthy fatality mortality elderly old elder age serious death deathly deadly
Washing your hands is one of the most affective ways to curtail the spread of coronavirus.
Image: WHO

Defence

Currently, our best line of defence against COVID-19 is to limit its spread, reducing the strain on healthcare systems. This is referred to as “flattening the curve”, avoiding a single spike of infections which would create an impossible demand for oxygen, ventilators and ICU (intensive care unit) beds.

In order to slow infection rates, the WHO recommends stringent social distancing measures and frequent handwashing. Many countries, including the UK, US, France, Italy and India, have gone into “lockdown”, prohibiting all but essential travel and telling people to stay at home.

Global unified action is required to combat the new coronavirus effectively. The World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform aims to facilitate this, galvanizing the global business community for collective action, and mobilizing support for the COVID-19 response.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

EU funds must reach media and creative sector, say MEPs

4 ways the circular economy can help heavy industry reduce emissions

Inclusion and diversity isn’t just good for employees – it’s good for the bottom line

Hunger and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean compounded by inequality: UN report

Drugs cost too much. There is a better way to fund medical innovation

MWC 2016 Live: Roshan CEO opens up on Afghanistan challenges

Will Merkel ever steer the EU migration Titanic and restore her power in Germany?

Northern Ireland: Parliament wants to secure post-Brexit regional funding

Thailand gave healthcare to its entire population and the results were dramatic

European Commission adopts new list of third countries with weak anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes

Young people struggling in digital world, finds latest OECD PISA survey

Botswana has decriminalized gay sex. But, it’s still illegal in 70 countries

Cultural leaders envision a post-COVID world

State aid: Commission approves €50 million Italian support scheme for production and supply of medical equipment and masks during Coronavirus outbreak

Britain’s May won the first round on the Brexit agreement with the EU

Pandemics are here to stay. Here’s how to prepare for the next one

Anti-vaccination scaremongering: What should we know about anti-vaccine argument?

How personalized care can tackle the late-life loneliness epidemic

GSMA Announces New Keynote Speakers, Event Updates for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

FROM THE FIELD: New sensors protect vulnerable Malawians against deadly lightning

Unequal burden: how the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to women’s workloads

“What a Wonderful World”: the unsettled relationship between Climate Change and Human Health

Robots, Artificial intelligence and Dentistry

Can the Tokyo Olympics help bring the world together?

Impacts of COVID-19: lessons and strategies for the future

Ebola in DR Congo: New transmission chain risks reversing major gains

Cocaine and opium production worldwide hit ‘absolute record highs’ – major threat to public health says UN study

Mental Health: In Times of COVID-19

The unpleasant truth of plastic straws

‘Jerusalem is not for sale’ Palestinian President Abbas tells world leaders at UN Assembly

Breaking news on European Youth Employment: European Youth Forum Guide tackles poor quality internships!

European Border and Coast Guard: Council adopts revised regulation

UN chief appeals for calm as Mali presidential election draws to a close

Fairer, simpler, more flexible EU farm policy: MEPs vote on post-2020 reform

This app uses augmented reality to rewrite ‘herstory’

‘We need to do more’ to transform the world, deputy UN chief tells African audiences

Bayer’s cross at night (Copyright: Bayer AG)

The EU clears Bayer-Monsanto merger amid wide competition and environmental concerns

Long-term EU budget: It is not possible to do more with less, say MEPs

How TV has brought mental health issues into the light – and helped to banish stigma

Trade Committee advocates lower tariffs in Western Sahara

UN chief welcomes South Sudan’s Unity government, lauds parties for ‘significant achievement’

1 in 4 Africans had to pay a bribe to access public services last year

EU Trust Fund for Africa: Can it be beneficial for Italy and tackle the migration crisis in the Mediterranean?

One-third of young people still optimistic despite COVID’s dramatic hit on education and jobs

Earth already has a perfect recycling system. So why not use it?

Financing fossil fuels risks a repeat of the 2008 crash. Here’s why

Here’s why the tech sector could be the next target for Chinese investment in Africa

Asia-Pacific showing ‘decisive leadership’ on road to 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, deputy UN chief tells key forum

Future EU-UK Partnership: European Commission receives mandate to begin negotiations with the UK

‘Stronger’ effort must be made to cement peace deal for South Sudanese women and girls: UN Women chief

Why sustainable packaging is good for profits as well as the planet

Polish de facto ban on abortion puts women’s lives at risk, says Parliament

2018 Sakharov laureate Oleg Sentsov receives his award

Science leads the response to COVID-19. These 25 scientists are tackling the other global challenges

Khashoggi murder trials must public and meet international standards, UN expert urges

Cybersecurity should be a source of hope, not fear. Here are 5 reasons why

Use “blockchain” model to cut small firms’ costs and empower citizens, urge MEPs

UN chief welcomes resolution to 27-year-old disagreement over renaming the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Africa-Europe Alliance: two new financial guarantees under the EU External Investment Plan

We need a global convention to end workplace sexual harassment

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s