By Peter Mallouk, JD, MBA, President | March 1st, 2020
The coronavirus infection has officially become a pandemic, and we have learned a lot over the past few weeks.
First, we now have an official name for it: COVID-19 (though it doesn’t seem to be sticking). While most similar infections affect the nose and throat, COVID-19 also infects the lungs, which increases the odds of pneumonia.1 So, we have a double-whammy: COVID-19 has a higher mortality rate because it infects the lungs, and its presence in the nose and throat allows it to be spread as easily as the common cold, via air particles resulting from sneezing and coughing.2
Depending on the report, the mortality rate ranges from just less than 1% to 1.2% of reported cases. For some, this doesn’t sound so bad. But when you consider it, it’s not hard to imagine hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of people infected. This puts it somewhere between the 1918 influenza pandemic with a 2% mortality rate and the 1957 influenza pandemic at .6%. 3Most people who have not survived the virus had severe health issues such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease, and most were older than 60. 4
Now, the (relatively) good news.
Breaking research suggests that the actual fatalities from the virus will number much less than 1%. Most who are carrying the coronavirus infection (see, not even I can completely stick with calling it COVID-19) simply exhibit normal flu-like symptoms and don’t even seek medical care. Our current estimate of the percentage who may die from the virus is based on known, reported cases. We saw this as recently a