Is this an “infodemic?”


UPDATE 8.30 am EST: There are now 80 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the USA including new ones in Florida; 2 deaths so far, both in Seattle.

Image: Chinese Flu Inspectors, NocturneNoir, CC BY-SA 3.0

Coronavirus seems to be more of an “info-demic,” than an epidemic! There’s a lot of panic being caused by the spread of information, disinformation and misinformation. The virus is real, and a small number of people have been infected. But it is going to pass without wiping out millions of the world’s population. This is not the Spanish flu of 1919. .

Maybe it’s time to chill out. We seem to be doing a great job of containing this COVID-19 bug. In an editorial published Friday Feb 28th in the New England Journal of Medicine the medics speculated that the coronavirus could turn out no worse than “a severe seasonal influenza” in terms of mortality.

Citing an analysis of the available data from the outbreak in China, (do we believe their data? ~Kelly) the authors note that there have been zero cases among children younger than 15; and that the fatality rate is 2% at most, and could be “considerably less than 1%.”

Those who have died have been elderly or were already suffering from another illness — as with ordinary flu.

The authors note that coronavirus looks to be much less severe than other recent outbreaks of respiratory illnesses:

[T]he overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.

There’s a piece over on Breitbart that says there are Five reasons NOT to panic:

1. Coronavirus is a familiar illness, and not as bad as others. 

2. The U.S. response has been exceptionally good. There have only been 16 cases thus far, none deadly. UPDATE 2/29/20: ONE DEATH IN WASHINGTON STATE NOW REPORTED. President Donald Trump bought precious time by stopping travel to China last month — a step critics said was overly drastic.

3. We are going to have a vaccine soon.

4. China is going to be all right. The number of cases in China sounds large — until you consider the size of China. China will eventually pull through.

5. The same people who want you to panic about coronavirus want you to panic about everything.