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The panic epidemic: why everyone is afraid of the coronavirus, although measles is infectious, and the mortality from the flu is higher

For more than a month, the attention of the world's leading media has been riveted to the latest news about the Chinese coronavirus. According to the latest data, in two months of the epidemic, a total of 1875 people became its victims, writes Air force.

Фото: Depositphotos

Of these, only 86 died outside the province of Hubei, and only three - outside of China: in Japan, France and the Philippines.

At the same time, more than 10 thousand people have died from the usual seasonal flu in the United States alone since the beginning of winter. But in general, according to WHO, every year a seasonal epidemic takes away from 290 to 650 thousand lives. In England alone, an average of 17 patients die from influenza each year.

When an outbreak of swine flu began in 2009 in southern California, at least 1 thousand people became victims of the H1N150 virus in the first year of the epidemic alone, and by some estimates, more than 500 thousand.

The Russian service of the BBC understands how dangerous the Chinese coronavirus really is - and is it really worth it to be afraid of.

Mortality rate

Of course, determining the danger of the disease by comparing the absolute numbers of the dead is pretty pointless. According to various sources, from 2009 to 2010% of the entire world population suffered from the same swine flu in 10-20, and in this context even half a million victims of the virus do not look very frightening.

It makes sense to compare the level of mortality - that is, the proportion of deaths relative to the total number of infected.

According to statistics, global epidemics like swine flu occur on average once every 25 years and kill 10-20 people for every 100 thousand infected (0,01-0,02%).

The death rate from the Chinese coronavirus today seems to be two orders of magnitude higher: the first 100 thousand confirmed cases of infection will account for about 2000 deaths, that is, about 2%.

In general, various studies evaluate the mortality of Covid-19 at a level of 0,5% to 4%.

These indicators are quite comparable with the usual seasonal virus. According to Viktor Zuev, a professor at the Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, "with seasonal influenza infection, mortality is the same or slightly higher."

In this case, unlike coronavirus, ordinary flu is extremely rarely diagnosed in the laboratory. And the official statistics on Covid-19 takes into account only those cases of infection when the patients' condition worsened so much that they needed laboratory diagnostics.

Most experts are confident that tens of thousands of people infected with coronavirus did not experience severe symptoms and did not see a doctor. And some did not understand at all that they were ill. Consequently, the “official” mortality rate can be very high.

On the subject: On board Delta and Hawaiian flights there was a coronavirus-affected couple: authorities are sounding the alarm

At the same time, it is possible that it may turn out to be higher. Let's not forget that out of 73 thousand diagnosed patients, only about 18% were cured, and the remaining 82% are still ill - and we can only guess how many of them will eventually recover.

Although a massive outbreak of any disease at first almost always seems more serious than its outcome - for the simple reason that severe cases of the disease attract more attention.

Harvard epidemiologist Mark Lipsic recalls that in the first months of the H1N1 swine flu epidemic, it seemed that every tenth patient was dying from the virus. It has not yet become clear that the vast majority of those infected had the disease on their feet and did not even see a doctor. When these cases were added to the general statistics, the mortality rate instantly dropped to 0,1%.

For comparison, during the SARS (SARS) epidemic in 2003, the mortality rate was almost 10%; Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome virus (MERS) dies on average one in three. So for this indicator, Covid-19 is much inferior to its predecessors.

So is it worth it to be afraid?

Another important indicator of the danger of any disease is its infectivity, that is, how many people manage to infect each virus carrier. Even the one who has the disease is mild and without any particular symptoms.

From this point of view, Covid-19 is really more dangerous than seasonal flu. If 10 patients with an “ordinary” virus infect an average of another 13 people (infectiousness 1,3), then coronavirus, according to the estimates of Chinese doctors, spreads faster: 10 carriers of infection manage to infect another 22 healthy people (2,2).

The chief virologist of the Institute of Experimental Medicine Larisa Rudenko draws attention to this, according to which "the virus is very dangerous for those who are in contact."

“Apparently, you can get sick even through ventilation systems, like on a liner in Japan. There they don’t contact the sick, they don’t go anywhere, but they still get sick, the virologist notes. - When there was a SARS virus, then in Hong Kong, the inhabitants of the upper floors were transmitted by ventilation systems from the lower residents. Droplet transmission is very dangerous. ”

However, the level of SARS infectivity was slightly higher - about 3, and in measles virus it even exceeds 12.

That is why with suspicion of any such disease, it is so important to maintain quarantine.

“The most important thing is quarantine, but people don’t understand this. When people leave quarantine at the Botkin Hospital, this is irresponsibility to society, ”Rudenko said.

On the subject: Chinese coronavirus: three people escaped from quarantine in Russia

The risk group, as with the outbreak of almost any infection, includes children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems and chronic diseases.

However, as the honorary vice president of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences Viktor Zuev notes, in general, healthy people should not be afraid of the coronavirus. Especially in Russia.

“People are afraid because of you, the media,” he says. - This is a disease that was caused by a new virus - therefore such an unexpected reaction. Its features are low mortality (2,5-3%), but the virus is very contagious. ”

According to Professor Zuev, the next epidemic of coronavirus is completely natural and is "a payment for the costs of the benefits of civilization that we use."

“We began to travel more and more often, we communicate with a huge number of people - and this means that we are carrying there the microbial baggage that we are rich in. We are not sterile, either bacteriologically or virologically, ”he explains. “But you and I [in Russia] do not need masks or vaccines.”

How many viruses live outside the body

Coronavirus 2019-NCOV

  • On surfaces in an environment with a humidity of 40% and a temperature of +22 C - from several hours to 5 days.
  • It is unstable to disinfectants. Dies within 15 minutes when heated to 56 C.

Flu

  • In indoor air at a temperature of +22 C - from 2 to 9 hours.
  • In the hands of a person - 5 minutes.
  • On metal and plastic - 24-48 hours.
  • In the refrigerator (+ 3 + 4 C) - up to 7 days.
  • On fabric products (towels, handkerchiefs) - up to 11 days.
  • Completely dies at temperatures from +60 C. It is sensitive to all major groups of disinfectants.

Rotaviruses

  • In the feces of patients - from several weeks to 7 months.
  • In tap water - up to 2 months.
  • At various environmental objects - up to 45 days.
  • On the surface of fruits and vegetables - 5-30 days.
  • Resistant to ether and detergents, acidic pH values ​​(3,0, common disinfectants.
  • Withstand heating at temperatures up to 50 ° C, do not die during normal chlorination of water.

Measles

  • In the air and on surfaces at temperatures from -15 to -20 C - several weeks.
  • In air and on surfaces at room temperature - from 2 hours to 2 days.
  • The causative agent is sensitive to ultraviolet rays and daylight.
  • Resistant to antibiotics.

ВИЧ

  • In the air - a few minutes.
  • In syringes at a constant temperature from 22 to 37 C - up to 2-7 days.
  • When boiling - 1 min, when heated to 56 degrees - 30 min.
  • Disinfectants cause death within 3-5 minutes.
Miscellaneous Educational program outbreak coronavirus Special Projects

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On board Delta and Hawaiian flights there was a coronavirus-affected couple: authorities are sounding the alarm

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