As an infection control nurse I get national updates every day about the corona virus.
When the story broke, I was driving my car to work listening to NPR. I got to work and said to my colleague, “this is gonna be huge.”
One of the things that was remarkable to me about the virus was that it jumped from animals to humans first, but then it jumped from humans to humans so quickly. I seem to remember that Ebola took decades to make the jump from humans to humans.
Another thing that was remarkable to me about this virus was how quickly it was spreading. In the beginning days there were 200 cases, the next day there were 400 cases, the third day there were 700 cases, the next week there were thousands.
For a while I wasn’t worried about it because it seemed to be similar to the flu and the numbers didn’t seem to be too terrible. But this morning I took a dive into the CDC’s numbers and this is what I found.
According to the CDC on 2/24/2020 there were 78,811 cases of COVID 19 worldwide and 2,462 deaths.
Compare that to 35,500,000 cases of influenza in the 2018-2019 season, with 34,200 deaths.
Of course it’s very early on to try to compare COVID 19 to the flu because we are comparing tens of thousands to tens of millions. But these numbers mean that COVID 19 has a mortality rate, at this time, of 0.03, and influenza (2018-2019 numbers) has a mortality rate of 0.001. That’s kinda huge. 3% death rate of COVID 19, compared to 1/10% death rate of influenza.
The missing link for me has been that I haven’t seen what recovery looks like to these patients and how it compares to the flu. It sounds bad to have a flu type virus deep in the lungs.
I wrote this piece to help myself get clarity about this situation. We need to continue to make every effort to contain the virus.