COVID-19 is not flu.
I was thinking long before I wrote it. The thing I hear from people I know drives me mental. I'll give you some examples:
"My older sister, who's in Minsk, has pneumonia. The hospital offered her a coronavirus test. She agreed. Her results and results of several dozen other people were lost."
"First, a friend from Minsk wrote to me three days ago that his cousin caught pneumonia, and he drove her to the hospital. She stayed there, but it turned out that there were practically no more beds in the department. They were all busy with people suffering from pneumonia. Yesterday a friend called from Vitebsk and told us about someone close to us, who was looking for a place in Vitebsk hospitals to be admitted. As you understand, it is all about same pneumonia".
Well, those who have not yet faced it, live everyday life: take children to schools and kindergartens, go to the cinema and gyms. Local newspapers in Homel report on how many people participate in seasonal fairs, street music festivals and other cultural events. I read how Minsk is looking forward to the opening of amusement parks.
I have a feeling that Belarus lives in a parallel reality. Even well-educated people say such things... This is what my friend biologist from Homel writes:
"According to the laws of epidemiology, until at least 50% is infected, the wave will not subside. Still, we're all going to get the corona sooner or later." "People die of the corona as much as of the flu". I face such an attitude all over the map.
I see that it's hard to find unbiased information under censorship. I, above all, trust professionals who face the problem every day, risking their lives.
I write this from Washington D.C., a city of about 700,000 people. To date, there have been 304 cases of coronavirus and 4 lethal cases. As of March 28, there are over 113,000 infected and 1,895 deaths of COVID-19 in the USA. We're still far from the greatest wave of the epidemic.
I hope a simple explanation from a friend of mine, a medical practitioner at Syracuse Hospital in New York State, will help you understand the COVID-19 problem.
COVID-19 is not the flu. It's far from it. Here are the reasons:
1. COVID-19 is a separate species. It has as much in common with the flu as you do with a hippopotamus.
2. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. It means that tiny droplets can stay in the air for up to 2 hours. If a person coughed in a store 1.5 hours ago, he may already be home, and his virus cloud is still there waiting for you to pass by and take a breath. In case of the flu, someone should sneeze right at you to infect. COVID-19 is much more contagious.
3. COVID-19 is more virulent. The virulence factor indicates how pathogenic the virus is. For example, the flu is like beer. It takes a lot to get drunk. COVID-19 is more like tequila, a small amount is enough to get drunk. You need to get a lot of flu particles to get infected; with COVID-19, even a few particles are enough to get you infected.
4. COVID-19 has a longer incubation period than the flu. You usually get the flu within the first 1-2 days. That's not bad. You stay home, being contagious. COVID-19 may not be detected at all for 5-9 days. During this time, you may feel good enough to go to a movie, gym or nightclub and infect everyone you come across.
5. COVID-19 lasts more than the flu. You may cough about a week or so. Week 2 is when people stop breathing and are put on a ventilator. Many people remain like that for up to 15 days. Thus, 5 days of incubation + 7 days of sickness + 15 days on a ventilator are 27 days of illness during which you spread viruses (given that you will not die of suffocation and collapse of the whole body). The average incubation period of influenza is 1-2 days and the disease lasts 7 days, i.e. only 9 days.
6. COVID-19 is more lethal. Much more lethal. The death rate from influenza is about 0.2%, i.e. 2 out of every thousand people affected by influenza will die. In contrast, COVID-19 is reported to have a 2% death rate, so it is 10 times more lethal. What's most worrying is that 2% is wrong, because COVID-19 doesn't kill children, so it distorts the average level. With COVID-19, age is a major survival factor. If we leave people under the age of 30 behind, the mortality rate is 4.5% on average. 9 out of every 200 people who get coronavirus will die. Will there be 200 adults among your acquaintances? Do you think losing 9 of them won't make much difference to you? Because mortality increases with age, so if we put 100 grandmothers in a COVID-19 room, only 85 of them will survive. Make conclusions.
Dear compatriots, be careful! Take care of yourself and your families, and especially of the elderly.
Vyacheclav Bortnik, especially for Charter97.org