Did we just destroy the greatest economy in the world because of a virus with a 0.26% fatality rate? Is antibody testing the key to full reopening?
According to CDC estimates, 79,400 Americans died during the 2017–2018 influenza (flu) season. During the same time, flu was associated with more than 48.8 million illnesses, and more than 22.7 million medical visits, 959,000 hospitalizations. Let that sink in for a moment. To date, coronavirus has claimed over 98,000 precious lives in the US.
Yes, coronavirus is deadlier than the regular flu. COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus is likely two to three times more lethal than the flu. However, COVID-19 is different than the flu. First, unlike the flu, it hits the elderly the hardest and it doesn’t seem to hit the very young. Flu, on the other hand, affects young people, including children. In addition, flu and coroanvirus are both infectious respiratory illnesses.
Although the symptoms of coronavirus and the flu can look similar, the two illnesses are caused by different viruses. Both viruses spread from person to person through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking. While both the flu and coronavirus may be transmitted in similar ways, however, there is big difference: coronavirus might spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.
Due to the lethal nature of the virus, organizations and government health officials here in the United States and other countries around the world, did the right thing by quickly putting the country on lockdown to control the spread the of the virus. Coronavirus is a reminder of what happened to the country a century ago during the 1918 Spanish flu and the different measures taken by two American cities. Philadelphia chose a parade over social distancing and paid a heavy price. St. Louis succeeded because of its social distancing and lockdown measures but Philadelphia failed to limit deaths. We learned from that 100-year history. Our leaders put in place social distancing measure and flattened the curve.
The curve has been flattened and our fragile healthcare system has been saved. However, it is important to remember how we got here in the first place. It all started with basic math problem with our news media. For months, the media has reported all sorts of fatality rates for COVID-19. Everything from 1% (ten times more lethal than the average flu virus among all age groups) to 3-7%. The actual mortality rates now turned out to be 0.26% to 0.3% according to the recently reported CDC forecast we told you about three days ago.
That’s not all. It turns out the virus is not as deadly as everyone originally thought. For instance, according to a report from USA Today, antibody testing data released by the State of New York revealed that 14% of population may be infected with coronavirus. Now, let’s dig deeper into this. New York State has a population 19.45 million people according to 2019 data. This means that about 2.9 million residents could have had the virus. To date, 29,451 residents have died from the virus. It means one out of every one thousand residents infected died of the virus or about 0.1%. This finding shows that the virus may not as dangerous as we first feared. What we have confirmed instead is that that nasty virus is highly contagious.
In a related research, researchers from Stanford University tested more than three thousand people in Santa Clara County, California for antibodies to the coronavirus in April. They later found that between 2.5-4.2 percent of Santa Clara residents were tested tested positive for COVID-19. Given that Santa Clara County has 1.93 million people, that means that the researchers estimated that 48,000-81,000 people were infected with 73 deaths at the time. This translates to a total fatality rate of 73/64,500 or 0.11%, almost the same as the fatality rate in New York State.
These findings show that the virus had spread far wider than anyone had thought and the most infected people (except the elderly and people with underlying health conditions) recovered and did not die from the deadly virus. It also shows that antibody testing is very crucial and could be a key to reopening the country and get people back to work. Up until now, we’ve only had an antigen test that tells us whether or not a person is currently infected with coronavirus. However, the antibody test goes extra step: It helps to determine who has been infected and recovered from coronavirus, and possibly detect a large pool of infected people with no symptoms.
Unfortunately, what is getting less attention from the mainstream media is the collateral damage from the virus. such as missed or delayed visits, treatments, and procedures for patients with chronic disease unable to access healthcare facilities in some cases because Covid-19. About 40 million Americans have also lost their jobs. For example, in the State of Tennessee, the suicide rate was reportedly higher the COVID-19 deaths. In other cases, patients haven’t shown up because of stay-at-home orders, fear of virus exposure, or emerging economic hardship.
Finally, the antibody test shows that fatality rate is not bad as the so-called experts told us back in March. Unfortunately, the stay-at-home orders and government lockdown policies are still based on these flawed models that predicted a fatality rate of 3-7%. In the absence of vaccine and by following the coronavirus safety guidelines, it is possible to safely get back people back to work and reopen the economy. In closing, we leave you with a quote from President Harry S Truman:
America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.