Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak


Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention An illustration of the 2019 novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ian Brown, Writer

The recent Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak has caused a fair amount of panic across the world. Every major media outlet is reporting on the fast-moving and difficult to track disease, and the infection count and death toll continue to climb. In China alone, there are 9,692 confirmed cases and 213 deaths, leading the World Health Organization do declare it a “global emergency.” By every account, this outbreak seems to be potentially catastrophic to the global community.

However, given the intensity of this information, it is important to put the issue in context. In fact, there is another potentially fatal disease circulating at the moment which has already infected 15 million Americans, although you may not think of it on nearly the same level as the current scourge from China.

That’s right, it’s the flu.

The yearly pest that all of us have come to accept has infected far more people than the Wuhan Coronavirus, with a total of 120,000 hospitalizations and 6,600 deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s more is that the flu is constantly changing, making a permanent vaccine extremely tricky. And while it is true that the death rate for the Coronavirus is significantly higher than that of the flu, it’s far higher prevalence on this continent makes it a much bigger risk for Americans.

So then, why is this new disease receiving so much attention? In short, much of it has to do with media hype and the spread of misinformation across the internet. The chance of this truly becoming a global epidemic is incredibly small; however, the headline, “Coronavirus dooms planet!” will certainly attract clicks from all over the Web. Now, of course, the disease is a serious predicament for China and a terrible disaster for those trapped in Wuhan, and everything in our power should be done to help these people receive the care they need. However, it does no good to assume that our world is at risk from such a new virus. Our best option by far is to keep a level head and remember not to let the hype go to our heads.

In short, if you’re going to panic about getting sick, look to the flu, not the Wuhan Coronavirus.