Fears of new virus? Old one plenty scary

So … getting more worried by the day about the coronavirus epidemic center in China? Officials report more than 560 deaths among the approximately 28,000 patients with the disease, which has spread to 25 countries.

Indeed, a few cases of panic have been reported. In one case, a man reportedly collapsed and died while bystanders, believing him to have been Chinese, refused to go to his aid. On some college campuses, Asian students are being shunned by others afraid of getting sick.

What if we were to tell you of an even worse outbreak — one the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says may have claimed as many as 10,000 American lives during the past several months?

What if we were to add that there is a very real chance you may come down with the disease, because about 26 million other people in this country have?

Pretty scary, eh?

We’re talking about common influenza.

CDC analysts say the flu kills as many as 36,000 Americans every year, on average — though it is important to note some scientists question the agency’s statistics. They point out that the CDC numbers are for flu-related fatalities, some of which may be by pneumonia not resulting from flu.

Still, any way you look at it, common flu is a greater danger than the strain of coronavirus now in the news.

The difference, of course, is that there is no vaccine to guard against the new coronavirus strain. On the other hand, commonly available vaccines can provide at least some protection against the flu.


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