I am not a doctor or a medical expert, but I have read enough to realize that our fear of the new coronavirus is irrational.
Since the outbreak began in December 2019, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 60,000 people and claimed the lives of more than 1,000 – it sounds terrifying, doesn't it? The virus has created an apocalypse-like situation in China, where many cities have been put on lockdown with strict measures put in place to prevent the outbreak from spreading further. Outside China, citizens of various countries are being quarantined at different locations, raising concerns about the severity of the virus and a potential pandemic.
Anyone following mainstream media these days and witnessing the daily increase in deaths caused by the new coronavirus would automatically go into panic mode. While our attention throughout the outbreak has been focused on the number of confirmed cases, deaths and contagion of COVID-19, the virus's official name announced by the World Health Organization (WHO), we may have ignored some key facts. For example, the recovery rate is significantly higher than the death rate. As of the time I wrote this opinion piece, 11,188 people had already recovered from the virus and most of the ones who died had underlying health conditions or were in poor health.
Besides, while there is no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, supportive care substantially helps in curing the symptoms – fever, cough and breathing difficulties – which allows our body to fight the virus itself. And guess what? It is working. Many people who have contracted the coronavirus experienced relatively mild symptoms and in many cases, supportive care has been enough to get the patient back on track without complications. Also, there is a growing consensus among experts that the process of recovering from the coronavirus mimics that of the flu. But did we ever take the flu as seriously as the novel coronavirus? According to statistics, around 8,000 people have died from this flu season in the United States and many more have died around the world, especially in countries with poor health care systems. This begs the following question: Shouldn't we be more concerned about deaths from flu? Statistically speaking, the answer is a resounding yes.
The primary reason the COVID-19 has received a lot of media attention is the fact that it is a novel virus, something that has never been encountered before; however, we must not misjudge or overreact, as research proves it is a mild virus which has a very low mortality rate of around 2%. Furthermore, more people are recovering than dying, and supportive care treatment is working. So instead of panicking and submitting ourselves to the notion of fear, we should perhaps start to rethink our health habits and work on reinforcing our immune systems. After all, most of the patients who have died so far were in poor health and the only vaccine for the novel coronavirus is our own immune system.
My words shouldn't be mistaken for advising people not to be concerned about the outbreak. Of course, we should be concerned; just like we should be concerned about any other virus. All I am saying is don't panic or overreact.
Lastly, to add one more cent to my two cents: if there is anything we can learn from the novel coronavirus, it should be how human beings have exploited animals. Like any other coronavirus and major modern diseases, such as Ebola, the novel coronavirus emerged due to the human exploitation of animals. Until we stop exploiting animals and their natural habitat, we shouldn't be surprised to see more viruses like the novel coronavirus in the future. The ball is in our court, and we can determine the future.
* News anchor at Anews