Feature Article: March 2020 – A Reality Check on the Coronavirus

Commentary: A Reality Check on the Coronavirus

Cesar Pellerano, M.D. and Rich Simonelli

How many people recall the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus in 2009 that was also designated a pandemic? Swine flu. Obviously, not many.

It originated in the US and spread across the world and affected primarily children and young and middle aged adults.

There were 60.8 million cases in the US, 275,000 hospitalizations, and 12,500 deaths.  Global deaths were estimated between 151,000 and 575,000.  There was no hysteria. None.

The media has successfully put the country in a panic about the current virus. Social media makes it worse. According to them, if you get it, you die.

But the numbers don’t come close to proving that. In the US on March 13,  there are 1,200 cases of Corona and 40 deaths with most coming from nursing homes.It’s hard on seniors but under 60, the recovery rate is similar the flu (which infects millions and caused tens of thousands of deaths every year). In fact , if you are under 80 and healthy, you have a great prognosis. With the exception of medically compromised seniors, math tells me Corona is no where near as deadly as the flu.

The survival rate is over 90 %

According to the CDC, the US flu season from Oct 1, 2019 to March 7 2020 there have been between 36 to 51 MILLION cases of the flu; 17-24 MILLION medical visits and between 22-55000 DEATHS. Good thing CNN, MSNBC and social media didn’t see this. We wouldn’t have toilet paper for 10 years.

The reality is the death rate in China has leveled off and new infections are slowing. China has 80,000 cases With the vast majority recovering. Yet some pundits talk about 4 million infections in the US. Last night, Drudge had a bold red headline that 150 million people in the US will get it. The quote came from Rashida Talib, one of the squad. Obviously, Drudge doesn’t consider the source. I wonder which news outlet will predict 1 billion infections.

Italy is locked down and doing the right thing to stop it.

With all of the school closings, cancelation of concerts, conferences, sporting events, the travel bans we have in place and the hyper awareness of people, we are doing a lot. Hands have never been cleaner, surgical masks are being worn all over and people are in self quarantine.

We are taking extreme steps way earlier than China. The first death in China was Jan 11. And new infections have leveled off after surging for  a month.

By January 24, the death toll in China stood at 26, with the government reporting more than 830 infections. By Feb 21, deaths hit 2,236 and 75,000 cases. 4 weeks.

After 3 more weeks since Feb 16, only 5,000 more people got it bringing the total infected.  80,000 people have it in China. In the last week, only 1,500 new cases. This is at the epicenter of the outbreak. In other words, it has virtually stopped spreading in China where the vast majority of cases and deaths have occurred.

Yet, then the spread in China slowed dramatically.  No one is reporting this. Instead, people are projecting millions and even hundreds of millions of infections in the US. China hit 75,000 and leveled off

Summer is coming and flus don’t spread nearly as much in the summer. Warm weather countries have not exploded with incidents. On the contrary.

If we follow China this thing will level off in 4 weeks.  We are already 2 weeks into it and are taking drastic measures.

There is a huge difference between 4,000 deaths and 40. In fact, it’s 100 times different. But you wouldn’t know that reading The NY Times, watching the news or scrolling through Social Media.

At the same time we have over 250,000 traffic deaths; 471,000 by alcohol; 942,000 from smoking and 1.5 MILLION from cancer.Throw in over 184,000 from malaria and over 300,000 from HIV.

So folks, it’s time for a reality check.

I’m not saying that Corona should not be taken seriously, but put it into perspective and do the reasonable preventive measures.

Avoid unnecessary air travel; crowded places such as theaters, concerts , restaurants, bars and conventions.

Avoid gatherings of over 8-10 people.Wash your hands often after contact with public surfaces and shaking hands with other people.

These precautions are important not just for you. If you are healthy, your illness probably will be minimal. However, this virus is highly contagious, so someone you come in contact with could infect a  person at risk. This could be a grandparent, elderly friend or a debilitated or immunocompromised individual.

So the protection is not just for you, but so avoid contact and spread of the virus.

BUT if you need to travel for business or attend a crowded venue for work, do the right thing. Take the necessary precautions and you will be safe.

Personally, I actually took the most effective measures to deal with this. I blocked about a dozen alarmist friends for 30 days and stopped watching the news. I’m staying home, reading books and listening to records.

I travel by car, avoid public counters and seating areas and use very careful hygiene in public bathrooms avoiding contact with door knobs faucets, etc.

Inside of a month or two, this will be old news. People will look back and laugh at the ridiculous hysteria and foolish behavior.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Age Management Medicine Group.