Are we overreacting to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
- According to the World Health Organization, “Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.”
- The risk of catching COVID-19 increases with age and serious health problems, like heart or lung disease, weak immune systems, obesity, or diabetes.
- Coronavirus gets its name from the “crowns” of sugary proteins projecting from their core, as corona means crown in Latin.
- The first reported case of COVID-19 in the US was on January 20, 2020 from samples taken on January 18 in Washington state.
America and countries everywhere are not overreacting to the novel coronavirus, which will kill millions if governments do not take drastic preventative measures (DPM). It has been proven that DPM are necessary to help 'flatten the curve,' or slow the rate at which people get infected, therefore preventing tens of thousands of people from running to hospitals all at once and overwhelming the healthcare system. According to the NY Times, this happened in Italy at the start of the pandemic, where doctors and nurses were being forced to make impossible decisions about who may live and who may die as they did not have the personnel or resources to treat everyone.
Those with chronic medical conditions and those over the age of 60 are especially high risk. A study of 1,590 patients in China found that those 'already coping with a chronic condition were 1.8 times more likely to have a 'poor outcome,' such as being put on a ventilator or dying, than those with no underlying conditions.' Yet another study conducted in China found that the death rate for those over the age of 80 is very high.
Those who think we are overreacting to coronavirus most likely have not been directly affected by it yet. As President Truman once said, 'it's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose your own.' Coronavirus will infiltrate every corner of the globe, and it is here to stay. It is imperative we take it seriously and continue tackling it appropriately.
With apocalyptic headlines and viral videos of fights over toilet paper, it definitely seems like people are overreacting. While the idea of losing a loved one to COVID-19 is scary, chances are slim that it will actually happen. According to the WHO, the crude mortality rate for COVID-19 is between 3-4%, higher than the previous estimate of 2%. However, it is still lower than the rates of past epidemics such as SARS and MERS, 9.6% and 34.4%, respectively.
Age and existing medical conditions are mainly linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes and death. Italy recently made headlines due to the high number of deaths resulting from coronavirus despite ranking 6th in one of the world's highest life expectancy rates. The national health institute, however, reported that the average age of those who died was 81, and many had underlying health issues. Another reason to curb panic over COVID-19 is the ease of carrying out preventive measures. Most of these measures are basic hygiene practices instilled from a young age. Forensic pathologist and CEO of PathologyExpert Inc, Judy Melinek, MD, recently rated these measures' efficacy, giving an A+ to avoiding handshakes and thoroughly washing hands and nails.
Finally, the aftermath of overreactions affects more people than the disease itself. Combined with the media coverage of the outbreak, fear makes people react poorly. This is apparent in recent behaviors such as panic-buying months' worth of supplies.