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SHAUN KING: Yes, COVID-19 is deadlier than the seasonal flu. Here’s the math

Shaun King
Mar 16, 2020 - 9:58
Shaun King Gives The Stats that Prove Coronavirus is Deadlier Than The Seasonal Flu

When you are experiencing a global pandemic, and the entire world shuts down as a result, it’s only natural that misinformation would abound. I get it. People are nervous. They are afraid. They are confused. We’ve literally never experienced a global shutdown like this any other time in our lives. 

School has been canceled for all five of my children. The CDC just requested that no events with more than 50 people are held. Entire industries are being decimated. Jobs are being lost. Panicked and sometimes selfish people have emptied grocery stores of essential items. This is not the zombie apocalypse. We’re not living in “The Walking Dead,” but we’ve damn sure never seen this before. 

And the one thing I keep hearing people ask is: “But doesn’t the regular old flu kill way more people than the coronavirus?”

Now, I see people asking why we aren’t panicking like this for AIDS or cancer or food allergies. 

I’m going to be quick here: 

The rate of death for the seasonal flu is 0.1%. That means that about one out of every 1,000 people who get it die. 

Right now, according to the up to the minute stats from Johns Hopkins University, the death rate for the coronavirus is 3.85%. That’s a staggering 38 times higher than the death rate of the seasonal flu. 

How do you get that number? 

As of Sunday night, as of 11:33 PM, 169,387 people had been diagnosed with the coronavirus worldwide. 

6,513 people have died. 

You take 6,513 and divide it by 169,387 and what you get is 3.85%. That’s the death rate. 

It’s staggering. 

That means that about four out of every 100 people who get it are dying. That’s 39 deaths for every 1,000 people who get it. 

What we are trying to prevent right now is having coronavirus spread at a rate comparable to the seasonal flu. If it spread at that rate, hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, could die. 

That’s the math. 

Please don’t play that game where you name something deadlier than the coronavirus and ask why we aren’t freaking out about that. It’s because of the death rate. That’s it.

For the past six years of the Black Lives Matter Movement, year in and year out, at least 1,000 people a year have been killed by American police. And every single year, conservatives and white supremacists ask me why we don’t care more about deaths of this kind or that kind, that outnumber the cases of police brutality — and each time — they don’t say these things because they care about police brutality. It’s because they don’t. It’s meant to diminish the issue. 

Coronavirus 411:

Coronavirus, officially named SARS-CoV-2 but also known as COVID-19, is a novel virus that causes a number of respiratory illnesses, including lung lesions and pneumonia. The virus spreads easily from person to person through the air when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. 

COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to some 136 countries. More than 174,000 people around the world have become infected and nearly 7,000 people have died. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency on March 13. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 can take between two to 14 days to appear. The CDC recommends calling your doctor if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, including fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If you also experience persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips or face, seek medical attention immediately. 

In order to keep yourself and others safe, be sure to wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing and avoid touching your face. The CDC has recommended that gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled for the next eight weeks. Click here for information on how to prepare for a quarantine.

2 Replies to “SHAUN KING: Yes, COVID-19 is deadlier than the seasonal flu. Here’s the math”

  1. I’m very curious to know how the percentage breaks down for age groups. That would be an important chart to see. I’m not so much worried for myself, byt worried for those over 50 and under 18.

  2. You have the math wrong, but your conclusions are all correct. The death rate of 3.85% is high, because we don’t know how many people have the Covid-19 virus. Epidemiologists have a lot of expertise in estimating how many people have the virus, and the actual death rate is most likely at least 1%, which is 10 times higher than the seasonal flu. The biggest issue now is stopping it from spreading, to avoid situations like what is happening in Italy, where the hospitals are overloaded. They are having to make decisions about who gets treated. In this country, we have a limited supply of respirators, ICU beds, and hospital beds, and most of them are already in use by other patients.
    I’ve heard that the death rate for those at high-risk (over 80, over 60 with health conditions, any age with health conditions affecting breathing) might be 15-20%, but that’s only if they get treatment. It will be higher if treatment has to be rationed. Health care workers are also at high risk of dying if they have the virus. Covid-19 differs from the flu in that children are not at higher risk of death (if otherwise healthy), and no one yet knows why that is. However, children get the Covid-19 virus like everyone else, and tend to infect other people at a higher rate than adults (more touching, less hand-washing).

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