The COVID-19 outbreak has been dominating the news recently, with loads of headlines and efforts being made to stop it from spreading.

Why this disease? It's not one of the most lethal ones, or one of the deadliest. Compare:

  1. COVID-19 - infected 24,478; deaths 492
  2. Malaria - infected 228 million; deaths 405,000 (2018 data)
  3. Tuberculosis - infected 25% of world population, i.e. ~2 billion; deaths 1.6 million (2017 data)
  4. HIV/AIDS - infected 37.9 million; 1.7 million new cases a year; deaths 770,000 (2018 data)

Compared to malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, the COVID-19 outbreak is pretty much a rounding error.

In terms of lethality, COVID-19 has a case fatality rate of 1.4-6.5%. This is still well below the lethality of tuberculosis (43%) and HIV/AIDS (80-90% after 5 years if untreated), although it is more lethal than malaria (~0.3%)

It seems like, objectively, COVID-19 is a very small fish in the pond of infectious diseases. It's not like the three diseases above are unique either; there're lots more diseases that affect & kill more people than nCoV (e.g. measles, leishmaniosis). Yet, right now, when people die of COVID-19 they make the news, while thousands of people die of the other three diseases every day without getting a mention. Further, COVID-19 is apparently attracting lots of research efforts to treat it. Why is it being prioritized over other infectious diseases?

I'm looking for objective answers as to why COVID-19 matters so much.

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    Don't know where you're getting your news, but there is plenty of ongoing news about malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. (Just do a search.) The difference is that they are not NEW, so the news is mostly about research and so of less interest to the general population.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 4:35
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    @Fizz - I guess 'prioritized" relates to stopping flights for and from China, China almost closing itself down, quarantines etc. Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 10:02
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    @DaveGremlin public health is a task most governments take on. So even if it isn't polical, public health questions can be on-topic here.
    – JJJ
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 11:05
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    The statistics here smells fishy. The proposed conclusion is not consistent with presented data (tuberculosis 2b/1.6m is not 43%). Still, nCoV's 25000/500 is worse than the other numbers given in the question, not the other way around. By the question's logic, a disease which infects 100% of people who pass within 50 meters of someone infected and has a 100% death rate should be considered no big deal for the first few weeks when only a few dozen people have died.
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 16:00
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    "In terms of lethality, 2019-nCoV has a case fatality rate of 1.4-6.5%" I feel like I'm the only sane person looking at these numbers accurately. This death rate makes no sense as it only considers current cases which have not had time to run their course either to recovery or death. If you take the num dead/(num dead + num recovered) value you get something closer to 20-50%. Combined with an R0 between 1 and potentially 4 based on fresh literature, this virus is a BIG DEAL. Just look at the unprecedented response in China. Someone please tell me I'm wrong. Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 21:32

7 Answers 7


The short answer to this question is that 2019-nCoV is new. All the other diseases you mentioned are known quantities: epidemiologists have a good idea how they behave, how they spread, what is likely to happen in a variety of different scenarios, etc. But this disease represents a new mutation that behaves differently from other coronaviruses. It's far more transmissible than other coronaviruses, and worse, seems to be transmissible through casual contact: not intimate contact, blood or fluid exposure, not through an intermediary vector like a tick or flea. Currently the death toll is low, but researchers simply do not have enough data to know whether that trend will continue.

Remember, the death rate of influenza is lower than that of this coronavirus. The 1958 and 1967 influenza pandemics had death rates of about 0.1%, and the 1918 pandemic had a death rate of about 2.5%*. But those pandemics killed millions because they were so transmissible they infected hundreds of millions. If the coronavirus follows that pattern and turns pandemic, we might expect to see any city of a million or so people suffer 20,000 to 30,000 deaths over the course of a couple of months (say 400-500 per day), which is a huge number of people dying by any calculus. Discretion is definitely the better part of valor, here.

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    Additionally, the mortality rate is still not very well established. This is because it is not definitive that there are few deaths due to the 20190-nCoV virus that are mis-attributed. And from the other side, the actual number of infections is difficult to be confident in since in many people it can have very mild symptoms. So the mortality rate could be very much higher or very much lower than the "about 2%" now estimated.
    – puppetsock
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 21:19
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    @puppetsock: Though if many people can have only very mild symptoms, but still remain infectious, that makes it even more dangerous, since they can be running around spreading the disease without knowing it.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 3:21
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    @Ted Wrigley: Just out of curiosity, where do you get the 2.5% mortality rate for the 1918 pandemic from? Here it says the mortality rate is not known but an estimated 10% to 20% of those infected died.
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 9:57
  • I don't remember off-hand: I believe it was a LiveScience article, but I didn't save the reference. I'll look into it again, and edit my post if I've made an error. I tend not to trust Wikipedia (which has a poor track record for certain things), but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 15:24
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    @Mars: Try your local university; they may have copies of the referenced books. Generally speaking, though, studies like this use simple averages. There will be local variations, and you're probably right that death rates are higher in poorer regions, but keep in mind that one of the features of a pandemic is that it overwhelms medical resources. Even highly developed nations are ill-equipped to handle thousands of critical patients and hundreds of dead bodies. That levels the playing field significantly. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 14:35

Respectfully, I think complacency is misplaced.

  • Malaria is locale-specific, and doesn't really affect rich first world countries. While it certainly could receive better funding, it is also easy to see why it doesn't affect the average European or American much.

  • HIV/AIDS is partially tied to lifestyle and one is at low risk if not in a risk category. In rich and even middle income countries it is, for now, largely survivable.

  • Tuberculosis - linked to poverty and bad health care systems. From Mayo: Although tuberculosis is contagious, it's not easy to catch.

  • The flu, which you did not mention, kills a lot of people, even in rich countries. But the proportion of healthy people dying is low, 1918 and some other years excepted. nCov looks like it is surpassing it.

  • Ebola - doesn't kill many, but spectacular, which I am adding as an occasional epidemic risk, but its very virulence and death rate seem to limit its capacity to spread out too much.

All these diseases, while deadly in large numbers, are known quantities. People have been trying to fix them for a long time, there are no low-effort cures just being ignored. Except for Ebola, where the research for vaccines was actually quite impressive in how quickly it was carried out.

nCov is a novel, species-jumping virus and unless it was benign, which it is not the case, that would already be cause for caution, merely from the unknown risk factor.

The death rate is not particularly high, and not all people require acute care, but note that not that many hospitalized people have been released and many of them seem to require oxygen. It is not hard to see that too many people getting badly ill could overwhelm a country's medical system, severely impacting the care that they can get. And that especially in poorer countries.

nCov seems to be quite capable at propagation. Note that I did not say contagious, I said it infected a lot of people already, in medical settings where people may not initially have been very aware. But that combined with a not insignificant death rate could allow it to make quite a mess in overall numbers if it really spreads.

We are dealing with a new risk, not fully quantified, but certainly quite capable of killing people. It makes sense to try to limit it now, as was done with SARS for example, rather than carrying on business as usual and ignoring it because malaria kills more people, right now.

The progression so far is anything but reassuring and hardly a cause for complacency though it is quite likely that the better protocols developed with SARS and later will result in successful containment.

It's not like we are pulling out malaria/HIV doctors and vaccine research to re-allot them to nCov so I really wonder why people need to begrudge being careful at this point. Even if turns out too cautious, the experience will make the world health system more resilient if a true killer pandemic surfaces later.

As to Politics SE? Why not?

It looks like it will have economic and political effects at this point, especially in limiting exchanges with the Chinese supply chains. China's complaining of being ill treated by the US. And the BBC carried an article about a doctor getting threatened by the Chinese police, late December, when this was already making the news a bit - this may yet cause the CCP some grief.

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    Ebola is also big news when a large scale outbreak occurs. It gets a significant shift in priorities and resources each time it looks like becoming more than a local issue.
    – Jontia
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 9:46
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    It's not like we are pulling out malaria/HIV doctors and vaccine research to re-allot them to nCov Just curious, what were these doctors and vaccine researchers originally working on?
    – Allure
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 22:44
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    I dunno. But it's pretty safe to assume that malaria Plasmodium parasite experts are not doing nCov viral research and that TB Mycobacterium tuberculosis specialists aren't either. Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 0:43
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    At a guess, its probably mostly influenza vaccine researchers, since the flu is another coronavirus, and flu vaccines need updating fairly often so there are probably a reasonable number around.
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 2:17
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    the flu is not a coronavirus, their classification are distinct almost all the way up the species/order gizmo tree. the common cold can involve coronas, which gets me confused too. </pedant> but otherwise, you're probably right, all the folk involved in researching flu and SARS are probably being drafted in. plus, the flu folk are really busy before winter guesstimating what needs to go into the flu shots based on likely dominant flu strains and now they're probably done with that work and more available. Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 7:05

Future potential

For a new disease, it doesn't matter how many infected or dead people there have been as of now, it matters how much infected or dead people can we expect in the future if we don't do anything.

It's possible and plausible to stop a new disease before it reaches it's full potential. If we stop a new "malaria-2" before it has the chance to infect 228 million people because we react aggressively right after the first few deaths, then that's exactly as valuable (in terms of preventing future infections and deaths) as eradicating malaria, and it's generally much easier to eradicate or contain a disease while it's still small, and very difficult after it's widespread.

The reason why 2019-nCoV matters so much is that as far as we can tell (the current data is preliminary, vague, disputed, etc) it seems on the same scale as the diseases you mention. It seems to have a relatively high reproductive value (R0), and the expectations are that if the initial spread is not contained, then it would become a very widespread global pandemic, infecting more people than HIV/AIDS or malaria.

The point is that we can estimate the potential impact of a disease based on its inherent properties. We don't have to wait until hundreds of millions have been infected to be certain that this is the kind of disease that's going to have hundreds of millions of infections unless we contain it while we still can. We don't have to wait until millions have died to be certain that this is the kind of disease where if X million will get infected, then some Y million are likely to die.

In essence we can and should act according to the impact of the expected casualty numbers, not on historical casualty numbers - especially for a new disease, where strong early intervention can achieve an outsized impact in reducing these numbers.

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    +1, The timeliness of action now will have a big impact on how this disease plays out in the future. If caught early enough, it's possible to contain the spread of a disease and stamp it out entirely. But once it spreads widely enough, that becomes effectively impossible. Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 14:41
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    If the 2% mortality is correct, then preventing it from infecting the general population will save round about 28 million people in China. And round about 7 million people in the USA. It seems worth some effort to me.
    – puppetsock
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 21:32
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    In addition I'd say there is still a chance to erradicate the virus early on by not letting it spread whereas for most of the other illnesses that's not an option any more in general as they are so wide-spread - and still, if there is a local Ebola outbreak similar procedures are taken, it's just easier to contain (and often occurs in 3rd world countries where global impact and spread is less of an issue than a densely populated and well connected country). Feel free to incorporate any of that if you agree. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 8:40
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    @puppetsock Right, but that's not the right math. The mortality expectations aren't quite as wide as that - it's not as if you randomly kill of 2% of the population. Think about the influenza viruses - they infect everyone all the time, often multiple times a year. If they actually killed 2% of the infected, we would all be dead many times over. The thing is, most of the time when you're infected with an influenza virus, you don't actually get the flu - e.g. about 15% of common cold infections are estimated to come from the influenza viruses.
    – Luaan
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 9:52
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    @puppetsock Of course, it can also get much, much worse. If you actually do (instantly) kill 2% of people, you will probably cause a wave of increased mortality. If it's sudden enough, you can easily reach a state where it's hard to get people to care for the sick (increasing mortality), providing proper nutrition (ditto), worsening hygienic conditions (yay)... The 1918 flu pandemic had a global mortality of 2% - but in some regions, it went up to 20%. If things start to break down, complications can easily cascade into a disaster, just like pox did to the native Americans back in the day.
    – Luaan
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 9:56

If the (reopened, but still rather unclear to me) question is why is the news media prioritizing this, the answer is (duh) because it's new.

If the question is why is China prioritizing this, e.g. building an entire hospital for it in Wuhan... look no further of how the problem is being politicized elsewhere:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak in China will help “accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

“Well, first of all, every American’s heart has to go out to the victims of the coronavirus. So I don’t want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease. But the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain,” Ross said during an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.

So China clearly has an image problem with this. Likewise, they were quite unhappy with the Denmark's Jyllands-Posten (yes the one with the Muhammad cartoon controversy) when they posted this:

enter image description here

On the more scientific tack:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared on Thursday (Jan 30) that the coronavirus epidemic in China now constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

The WHO first introduced PHEIC as part of the 2005 International Health Regulations after the Sars virus in 2003.

Sars was recognised as a "global threat" by the WHO in mid-March 2003. It infected about 8,000 people worldwide and killed 774 people over seven months.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, announced the decision after a meeting of its Emergency Committee, an independent panel of experts, amid mounting evidence of the virus spreading to some 18 countries. [...]

"Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China," he said.

"Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems," he added.

The WHO defines a global health emergency as an "extraordinary event" that is "serious, unusual or unexpected".

So as far as WHO is concerned, this seems as bad as SARS was, insofar.

Frankly the only country that seems to have done something unusual has been the US:

on Friday, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared that the 2019-nCoV outbreak constitutes a public health emergency in the United States and that international citizens who have traveled anywhere in China during the previous 14 days would be denied entry to the United States. In addition, any US citizen who had been in China’s Hubei province during that period would be subject to quarantine for up to 14 days for medical observation.

At the CDC press briefing, Messonnier said that the agency, under statutory authority of the Health and Human Services secretary, had issued federal quarantine orders for all 195 repatriated individuals who were evacuated on January 29 from Wuhan, China, to a California military base. “While we recognize this is an unprecedented action, we are facing an unprecedented public health threat,” she said.

The action marks the first time in 50 years that the United States has issued a mandatory quarantine order.

Whether the US knows something that China or the WHO don't or this is simply a reflection of more Trumpian times ("America first" etc.), I guess will find out later on.

There are some recent numbers (as Bryan Krause comments) that indicate this could be a bigger problem than SARS. In a Reuters graphic:

enter image description here

Another (medical) source made a (more) useful comparison with SARS and the "swine flu":

As the new coronavirus continues to cross international borders, the two key questions on public health officials’ minds are: ‘How deadly is it?’ and ‘Can it be contained?’.

The two outbreaks in recent memory that give the most insight into these questions are the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which spread from China to 26 other countries but was contained after eight months, and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, which originated in Mexico and spread globally despite all containment efforts. [...]

A key characteristic to examine in these two disease profiles is whether symptoms appear before transmissibility – i.e. at a point when patients are not yet able to infect others – or the other way around. For SARS, symptoms usually appeared before transmissibility. This feature made SARS containable.

For the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, transmissibility appeared about one day before symptoms. This meant that even the best control measures missed 20% of transmitting patients, simply because they showed no symptoms.

Is the current epidemic more similar in severity and transmissibility to the SARS outbreak or the 2009 flu pandemic? I am a professor of biology who studies the evolution and epidemiology of infectious disease, and in my view, in late January 2020, we do not yet have enough solid evidence to answer this question.

I'm not sure if the last question has been answered, but countries like the US and Australia, Russia, Japan seem to act as if it has been answered (in the unfavorable direction).

To make this part of the plot a bit thicker, there was a paper published at the end of January claiming that asymptomatic transmission was observed. Interestingly the publication of this paper coincided with the institution of some of the aforementioned travel bans. But the paper was revealed to be flawed a few days later:

A paper published on 30 January in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) about the first four people in Germany infected with a novel coronavirus made many headlines because it seemed to confirm what public health experts feared: that someone who has no symptoms from infection with the virus, named 2019-nCoV, can still transmit it to others. That might make controlling the virus much harder.

[...] “There’s no doubt after reading [the NEJM] paper that asymptomatic transmission is occurring,” Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told journalists. “This study lays the question to rest.”

But now, it turns out that information was wrong. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German government’s public health agency, has written a letter to NEJM to set the record straight, even though it was not involved in the paper.

[...] the researchers [of the first NEJM paper] didn’t actually speak to the woman before they published the paper. The last author [...] says the paper relied on information from the four other patients: “They told us that the patient from China did not appear to have any symptoms.” Afterward, however, RKI and the Health and Food Safety Authority of the state of Bavaria did talk to the Shanghai patient on the phone, and it turned out she did have symptoms while in Germany. According to people familiar with the call, she felt tired, suffered from muscle pain, and took paracetamol, a fever-lowering medication. (An RKI spokesperson would only confirm to Science that the woman had symptoms.)


The fact that the paper got it wrong doesn’t mean transmission from asymptomatic people doesn’t occur. Fauci, for one, still believes it does. "This evening I telephoned one of my colleagues in China who is a highly respected infectious diseases scientist and health official," he says. "He said that he is convinced that there is asymptomatic infection and that some asymptomatic people are transmitting infection." But even if they do, asymptomatic transmission likely plays a minor role in the epidemic overall, WHO says. People who cough or sneeze are more likely to spread the virus, the agency wrote in a situation report on Saturday. “More data may come out soon. We will just have to wait,” Lipsitch [an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health] says.

As much as China has criticized the quarantines and travel bans in other countries, they have pretty much done the same internally, with people from Hubei being subjected to similar measures... and even the streets of Beijing looking rather empty nowadays. Somewhat similar to their response to the SARS outbreak, China went from censorship and official denial to authoritarian overdrive (some of which of questionable efficacy).

The virus-control campaign explains a splash of colour on Weiji’s almost-empty main street, a red banner urging locals to be tested. It reads: “Find It Early! Treat It Early! Medical Fees All Free!”

That encouraging, cajoling sign is buttressed by a dose of coercion. The village’s fresh-faced Communist Party chief, who wears a smart black windbreaker, describes instructions from higher-ups. Cars with Hubei number plates are to be turned away, and migrants returning from that province sent back. Those who made it home to Weiji before controls were imposed on January 20th must submit to temperature checks twice a day and remain indoors in their family homes, with no visitors allowed. Foreign experts may debate the medical efficacy of mass quarantines, but locals describe a sense of comfort from doing something to fight what President Xi Jinping calls a “devil” virus. [...]

Many villages have shut themselves off from outsiders using barricades made of freshly-dug earth, lumps of concrete or, in one case, a parked tractor (an example outside the village of Wangyoufang, southern Henan, is pictured). At one such roadblock, old men in disposable face-masks sit at a wooden office desk, a pot of thermometers in front of them. The campaign is an odd mix of high and low technology. Henan police questioning this reporter were able to summon up his photograph and details by tapping his Chinese telephone number into a mobile device. But electronic thermometers gave very different readings in the space of a few seconds—an alarming flaw when even a hint of fever at a checkpoint can result in 14 days of quarantine.

Interesting too perhaps, the WHO was also critical [of China this time] two weeks ago:

“The lockdown of 11 million people is unprecedented in public health history, so it is certainly not a recommendation the WHO has made,” he [Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in China] said, adding authorities had to wait to see how effective it is.

But sealing off Wuhan is “a very important indication of the commitment to contain the epidemic in the place where it is most concentrated”, Galea said.

According to some experts, the widespread quarantine and travel restrictions within China are the brainchild of Zhong Nanshan, who also had a leading role in the management of the SARS outbreak. The lockdowns are said to have been personally approved by president Xi.

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    @puppetsock: I'm just saying that the US didn't institute that measure for SARS, which is a comparable threat according to the WHO. (But then Bush also didn't ban travel from a bunch of Muslim countries etc.) Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 21:59
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    The number of confirmed infected already far surpasses SARS, and the deaths aren't far behind, and without some surprising change in the second derivative will easily surpass SARS. It seems prudent that the response is greater than for SARS. Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 22:27
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    WRT the last quote, there's not all that much practical difference between asymptomatic transmission, and transmission by people who have symptoms similar to a minor cold.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 17:06
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    @jamesqf the practical difference is substantial. If the incubation period is shorter than the latent period, it is much easier to control disease spread. Simple advice like "stay home if you're sick" is much more effective in these cases. Cold's are common, sure, but most people don't have them.
    – De Novo
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 4:49
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    @Luaan sorry, let me clarify some definitions: point prevalence = the proportion of people with a condition at a specific point in time. What proportion of people have a cold right now? Latency is time from exposure to infectiousness. Incubation period is time from exposure to symptom development.
    – De Novo
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 14:46

China has instituted the largest quarantine in history. What we know is that the health care system in Wuhan is overwhelmed, despite herculean efforts to control the disease.

Corona virus statistics cannot be trusted, it is too early. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, said:

In an outbreak your really have to interpret fatality rates with a very skeptical eye, because often it's only the very severe cases that are coming to people's attention.

This actually tells us that the fatality rates may be overestimated, but but fatality rates have little to do with the rate of spread of the disease, and that seems to be what may distinguish this novel class of pathogens from the other deadly diseases.

When an outbreak is fast-moving enough that massive numbers of people not actually infected are impacted, that really is newsworthy.

What truly disappoints me is so few of the news reports repeat the best advice the World Health Organization and doctors worldwide currently have to offer:

Stop coronavirus by ditching masks and washing your hands.

(Virologists are skeptical that routine use of masks is effective in protecting the wearer against airborne virus and bacteria. See https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51205344)

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    The hand washing is good. Definitely wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. But the masks are also appropriate in areas with infection. This latest virus is similar to SARS, which could definitely spread through sneeze and cough.
    – puppetsock
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 21:28
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    For SARS, the CDC's advice was that masks are effective on infected people to contain sneezes and coughs. There is little evidence they are effective as a preventative measure, but lots of advertising using misleading statistics measured in laboratory conditions, using procedures which require replacing a mask as soon as it becomes moist. But the biggest concern is that people without training who focus on masks are less likely to exercise good hand sanitation procedures. Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 21:51
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    LARGE majority of people do not use masks properly! Especially the rectangle ones. You have to pull apart the inside fully and make sure you are not breathing through the sides. Less than 10% of the people I observe do this. They slap the rectangle on their face and put the straps on their ears. This is effectively useless.
    – Nelson
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 15:30
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    Nelson - using a paper doily as a mask is effective if it stops the wearer from touching their mouth and nose. It is far more effective to wear the mask as intended so that you are breathing filtered air, but even an improperly worn mask does some good.
    – arp
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 1:23
  • @Nelson "This is effectively useless." - From what I read in this article, face masks are effectively useless.
    – Aaron F
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 11:10

From the side that justifies the alarm we can say that

  • Malaria is constrained by climate
  • Tubercolosis is lethal only among the population weakened by malnutrition and other factors related to poverty
  • HIV/AIDS is not as infectious as influenza.

Instead the growing population and the increasing mobility and urbanisation favour the spread of flu like viruses. They are the one with the highest probability to reach every corner of the earth.

On the other hand one could note some details that are too often overlooked.

  • Influenza is a highly mutable virus, new strains pop out every now and then, what happened is nothing new.
  • The alarmists repeat too many times the story of the Spanish flu. But when it happened the world was weakened by a terrible war. Huge number of troops and refugees lived crammed in unsanitary condition and the resources to cure the affected people were scarce. The state of modern health infrastructure is definitely not the same of what was there in 1918 (and not even 1958 or 1967).

Putting the two things together I would say that the whole thing is overblown and I think that the reason for the overreaction lie more in the delicate political situation in China than in the actual health risk. The media then added of its own as it is usual for them to keep the public hooked. We got to the point that I can have a laugh every time I catch the underground, a sneeze is enough to attract a lot of scared looks.


According to the www.imperial.co.uk Coronavirus would infect 80% of US citizens and kill about 4 million if no action is taken at all.

Does that answer it?

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