Coronavirus has gone global quicker than any other virus in the past, thanks to globalization. Travel across the board to every nook and corner has grown tremendously over the past few decades. The epi-center of the COVID19 ( Coronavirus2019) epidemic being in the highly populous country as China and the Hubei region has given a bigger impetus to the spread.
Irrespective of how fast or slow COVID19 (Coronavirus) is spreading, the perception of the mass media until lately was that Coronavirus is not any more impactful than the common flu. However, aggregate number of cases being infected with Coronavirus and the deaths associated with the virus paint a completely different picture.
A little bit background about the seasonal FLU (Influenza)
Influenza viruses have been categorized as Type A, B , C,D. Seasonal FLU is caused by Influenza A and B virus. Influenza C virus is detected less frequently. Influenza D only shows primarily in cattle and does not seem to manifest in humans.
What is R0 and What does R0 signify?
An important number to consider when discussing any disease that has the capability of spreading from human to human is R0 value. R0 Value determines how fast a disease could potentially spread.
R0 < 1 – Each infected case could cause less than one additional case. This would mean controlling the disease is easier in comparison to the below scenarios.
R0 = 1 – Each infected case could cause one additional case. One could derive that this would mean that the disease spreads in a stable fashion and with necessary precautions the disease could be quickly controlled.
R0 > 1 – Each infected case could cause more than one additional case. The higher the number, the more easily a disease would spread and it would be increasingly difficult to keep the disease under control.
Seasonal FLU – Influenza has a R0 number that ranges between 1.4 to 1.6 depending on the year and the country.
On the contrary, COVID19 – which is new and has R0 numbers published by various researches, has an estimated R0 number ranging between 2.5 to 6 – many being above the 3.0 mark.
This clearly suggests that Coronavirus is much more contagious than the seasonal influenza (flu).
Fatality Rate Comparison – COVID19 vs FLU
Many must also be wondering how dangerous Coronavirus is in comparison with Common flu considering all the comparisons between the two.
The fatality rate for common flu is around 0.03%. In contrast the fatality rate for COVID19 ( WUHAN-Coronavirus-2019) is at 2.3%. Based on these numbers, the percentage of people dying from Coronavirus is nearly 70-100 times more than the common flu. However, do note that the fatality rate for Coronavirus – CoVID19 is still evolving, and once a vaccine is available, it could go down, substantially.
Please do note that these numbers are changing daily when countries all over the globe report new cases and deaths impacting both the mortality rate as well as the comparison between common flu and COVID-19 Coronavirus.