Re: Further update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and IETF 107 Vancouver

Carsten Bormann <cabo@tzi.org> Wed, 26 February 2020 07:18 UTC

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Subject: Re: Further update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and IETF 107 Vancouver
From: Carsten Bormann <cabo@tzi.org>
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Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2020 08:18:23 +0100
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To: Michael Richardson <mcr+ietf@sandelman.ca>
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On 2020-02-25, at 23:19, Michael Richardson <mcr+ietf@sandelman.ca> wrote:
> 
>   Although coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) dominates the news in early
>   2020, it affects few people in the US. In contrast, at the same time the
>   US is experiencing a severe influenza epidemic, which has caused an
>   estimated 250 000 hospitalizations and 14 000 deaths. Timothy Uyeki, MD,
>   lead for the CDC’s 2019 novel coronavirus response team and Chief Medical
>   Officer of CDC’s influenza division, discusses influenza in the US, how it
>   compares to coronavirus, and what both patients and clinicians should know
>   about this year’s flu season.

Comparing to influenza helps maintain perspective on COVID-19, indeed.

However, the crucial difference is that influenza has an established vaccine regime.

So people who are more vulnerable to infections of this kind typically are inoculated.
(This also modulates the death rate: since risk populations have higher inoculation rates, they get sick at a lower rate, so the overall case fatality rate is lower.)
There is also the psychological aspect that “one can do something about” the influenza threat.  And we have a lot of data about how this works out.

Now, all considerations of COVID-19 must focus on limiting the spread, until a vaccine regime can be established.  So interventions that would not make sense on an individual basis (e.g., during a period where the risk is really low) still may be justified from a containment point of view.  This includes interventions that, literally, are worse than the disease for the victim.  That, together with lots of unknowns, creates the scary part.

Grüße, Carsten