As the news is being circulated that Influenza kills more people than the novel Coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that COVID-19 has surpassed Influenza’s mortality rate.
In the latest situation reports, WHO said that the reproductive number – the number of secondary infections that arise from the initial infected person – is between 2 and 2.5 for the Coronavirus, which is higher than Influenza.
The seasonal Influenza usually amounts to a mortality rate under 0.1% where the mortality, to a large extent, is determined by the access to the health care to the patient along with the quality of health care.
Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Gherreyesus said that the “COVID-19 causes more severe diseases than seasonal influenza. While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection and some will suffer severe disease. Globally about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected,”.
As per the data, to date, shared by the WHO, suggests that 80% of infections are either asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) or mild with only 15% infections getting severe which require oxygen and 5% are critical infections which require ventilation in case Coronavirus.
Scientists have said that the speed at which the virus is transmitted from one person to another is also an important point of difference between COVID-19 and Influenza. When compared to Coronavirus, Influenza not only has a shorter median incubation period (the time it takes for symptoms to appear from the time of infection) but also a shorter serial interval (the times between successive cases).
Scientists are wondering if, with an increase in the temperature, the number of cases will come down, however, no concrete proof has come forth till now.
Former Head of Division of Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Lalit Kant, said, “At the moment we do not know. This virus has been around for 10-12 weeks and it has not seen the summer months, and no studies have been done. Studies done earlier with other coronaviruses have shown that beyond 30 degrees C, duration of persistence of the virus is shorter.
How will this virus behave, we do not know,”. He added, “COVID-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others. So the total number of infected individuals would be much more. Through the mutations its virulence decreases and it stays with us like the H3N2(1968) or the H1N1 (2009) influenza virus. New cases would drive the cases up thus worsening the situation,”.