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Pandemic Coming Our Way?

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How the coronavirus compares to other big outbreaks

Cait Kelly writes;

 

Flights are grounded, whole cities are in lockdown, cruise ships have become containment centres and treasurers are stressed.

The new coronavirus has sent shock waves across the world, and although it hasn’t officially reached ‘epidemic’ proportions, many of the world’s leading infectious disease experts believe it is likely to become a pandemic – an epidemic on two or more continents.

Here is how this new coronavirus compares to other major disease outbreaks that have swept across the world.

 

Swine flu was the deadliest, killing an estimated 284,500 people, spreading to 214 countries and according to several studies, infecting between 11 and 21 per cent of the world’s population, which was 6.93 billion at the time.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) stopped tracking the total number of cases in the middle of the pandemic. The actual numbers might be much larger as only serious cases were tested, but the reported fatality rate was 0.02 per cent.

Coronavirus, on the other hand, currently has a mortality rate of around two per cent – but many people believe the number of cases could be much higher than is being reported, which would bring the percentage down.

Swine flu emerged in Mexico in March 2009, and after spreading to 74 countries the WHO declared it a pandemic. They were first criticised for taking too long to call a pandemic, then for hyping up the outbreak.

Swine flu has now become a regular in our flu season and many doctors believe coronavirus could become the same.

Out of the animal kingdom

Most big virus outbreaks start with animals.

Ebola is transmitted through bats and other primates.  The origins of SARS and MERS are both uncertain but analysis shows they’re also spread through mammals.

They all move at different rates, but coronavirus’s breathtaking speed has more to do with where the outbreak started, said Virologist at the University of Queensland Ian M. Mackay.

“The new coronavirus moves quickly because it’s better able to spread from human to human than Ebola virus and seems to be more efficiently transmitted than SARS-CoV was,”  he told The New Daily. 

 

“There is also a wide clinical spectrum among cases, including mild illness. But in context, the virus emerged in a very populated area. So its perhaps also unsurprising the numbers are much bigger than most Ebola outbreaks or past epidemics.

“It’s travelling at the speed of a flu-like virus. The 2009 influenza pandemic virus also moved quickly around the world. This is precisely what a well-transmitting respiratory virus is capable of.”

Common influenza is still more deadly. Typically, seasonal flu has a mortality rate below one per cent and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths each year globally.

“We have a vaccine for flu that can prevent death, but its uptake isn’t widespread,” said Mr M. Mackay.

“We do need a better vaccine but that’s another story. Will refusal or limited uptake also be an issue should we get a novel coronavirus vaccine?”

“We may see this virus peak in the coming months according to models, but we may not be able to contain and eliminate it the way did for the SARS-CoV.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. If we do get ravaged by a Pandemic make no doubt that Jacinda,Clarke and their Messiah Child will commandeer an Air Force plane and whoosh off somewhere safe and luxurious…
    While the rest of us are banned from Travel.

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  2. I’m beginning to swing towards Kea’s point of view that this is just another flu-like virus and, compared to the deaths caused worldwide by ‘ordinary’ flu it’s probably nothing much to worry about.

    Obviously all diseases are to be taken seriously…. but are we perhaps panicking over this because of the media hype? On the other hand, the Chinese are taking it super seriously. Locking literally millions of people down seems like a total overreaction…. unless there’s something about this that they’re not telling us?

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  3. Yawn.

    They reckon 250,000 – 650,000 die each year from seasonal flu.

    People are equating the emotional reaction, media articles and govt reactions with risk.

    The odds of dying of this new cold are lotto odds.

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    • That’s less that 0.1 percent. Mostly people who were on their last legs and number of serious cases doesn’t over run health services. We will see if it takes hold somewhere, where the real info isn’t heavily “managed”.

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  4. A family connection who works at one of our international airports on border security says staff have no protection. The airport authorities have taken no precautions to prevent the corona virus being detected other than handing out pamphlets and asking arrivals to self-isolate. Do arrivals take public transport or taxis to their homes/into the city? There is no protection for NZ’ers from the virus arriving in NZ. It is dumb luck so far.

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    • A taxi driver was complaining about exactly that. If you are a NZ Citizen or Resident you can travel home at will, but must quarantine for 2 weeks.

      Of the Chinese born New Zealanders I know, only one that has come back from China since the New Year holiday has isolated herself. The rest? They’re out there going about their lives as per normal. They’re asking Mama Bear to show them homes, walking through people’s homes and going to auctions, etc.

      IF this is an engineered virus and IF its payload is still to be delivered we are woefully under-prepared for it.

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