Is COVID-19 serious? Yes. The virus is extremely contagious. Should the global economy grind to a halt because of one strain of the flu? I don’t think so. Context is important. Practices and countermeasures exist to combat the flu. We need to apply them properly. We also need good information. Fortunately, the CDC has been researching diseases and providing guidance for decades. I hope to highlight some valuable resources that many people are unaware of.
Among other publications produced by the CDC, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) provides a fact-based digest of patterns and determinants of health and disease conditions throughout the United States. The MMWR has been available in various forms since the 1930s. The experts who document this information are very good and the content provided in the MMWR and its associated reports provides valuable insight into what is going on in public health today.
All flu is serious. Unfortunately, fear seems to be driving the public response to COVID-19 right now. The Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending March 7 shows COVID-19 cases are increasing. When you combine the incidence of all flu strains with the mortality rate associated with each strain, however, more concern should apply to the H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 flu pandemic than COVID-19.
“CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 36 million flu illnesses, 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths from flu.“
One of the keys to effective leadership is focusing on the right problem. Perhaps focusing on education and awareness would be a more effective response to COVID-19 than endlessly reporting every case that is identified. Mass hysteria would have been here long ago if every case of H1N1 received the same media attention as COVID-19.
“The highest rate of [flu] hospitalization is among adults aged ≥ 65, followed by children aged 0-4 years and adults aged 50-64 years.”
Our younger and older populations are at risk from multiple strains of the flu. All people affected by every illness deserve prayer and consideration for their health and well-being. We should continue to practice good hygiene once the threat of COVID-19 subsides so we can help limit the spread of all flu strains (and the common cold and other infectious diseases).
Read the information for yourself and draw your conclusions from the information published by public health experts:
- MMWR (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/index.html)
- Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm)
Disclaimer: I am not a public health scientist. I had the pleasure of supporting the people who produce this material and their work is worth sharing.