Coronavirus compared to other diseases

The call to action of 2020

The year 2020 seems to be off to a scary start. Global problems causing serious concern keep surfacing in addition to the already existing challenges that need immediate solving.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and the worldwide damage it is causing we find it important to highlight that every problem has a solution. As long as we take it seriously and act on time we can reduce the harm and avoid future complications.

In this post, we want to take a look at the situation and danger the virus is unveiling for all of us but also remember that there are other serious issues that need our immediate attention.

2020 will be a year to remember

Just three months into 2020 and we are already witnessing signs that humanity needs to unite and finally tackle world crises. While many problems keep lingering for years and causing damage day after day new ones constantly emerge and intensify the situation even more.

Natural disasters (Australian bushfires, Brazil floods, Philippines volcano eruptions), tragedies, regional and international conflicts (UK’s Brexit, Trump’s Middle East plan) as well as new diseases outbreaks are what characterize the year so far.

It is unavoidable that some kind of problems will exist but the stacking up of so many at the same time has to mean something. Contrary to initial impressions this is not a sign we should sulk in desperation and accept our “tragic destiny”. It is a final warning that we need to stop pointing out differences and finding reasons to disagree and ignore problems hoping they will go away. A better strategy would be to focus on unity, cooperation, and responsible attitude towards pressing world-threatening emergencies.

COVID-19 outbreak

The COVID-19, more known as the coronavirus named after the crown-like spikes on the protein shells of the virus, is what seems to be the most critical and urgent challenge we as a humanity face.

The discovery and quick spread of the new for humankind infection has caused worldwide concern and growing panic in many areas. The new disease first surfaced on the 31 December last year when dozens of simultaneous cases of pneumonia with unknown cause were reported in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 was later identified as the reason behind the phenomena and it was confirmed the virus is something humankind has not faced before.

The sickness quickly spread outside China despite the quick reactions of authorities and quarantine measures – Japan, South Korea, and Thailand were hit next followed Europe, especially Italy, shortly after.

Currently, more than 200.000 (19 March 2020) people are confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 and over 9.000 deaths in 165 countries. We are dealing with something new and dangerous and this is indeed a justified cause for concern. But is important to remember it is not something that will never be solved if we take the right measure and action and it is also not the only (not even the most deadly) disease we need to counter.

Preventive measures can help- individualistic mindset and scepticism, not so much

Naturally, the most important aspect when it comes to stopping COVID-19 from becoming even more dangerous and claiming more victims is to respect and practice travel restrictions. Many affected countries and those in risk are taking preventive measures by limiting travelling possibilities for the population and advising to avoid public gatherings.

It is paramount to force ourselves to ditch the individualistic mindset and attitude that urges our first instinct to be – “No one can tell me what I can and cannot do, it is only up to me”.  This common concept can bring harm and more causes of concern in the current situation we are in.

There are clear guidelines created by professionals that can help make sure we reduce the risk of getting the virus (and recklessly spreading it to others). The World Health Organization has a very descriptive guide with many great suggestions on how to avoid COVID-19 –washing your hands often and well, keeping 2-3 meter distance from people, and practising food safety as starters.

It is not just COVID-19

While the worries around Coronavirus are mostly justified it is a good idea to look at it realistically. There are many other sicknesses with a similar and even worse effect that have been around for years. They keep claiming a large number of victims but the levels of awareness and concern are nowhere as near. It is important to remember there are other deadly phenomena that we need to be careful with.

Measured against other outbreaks and even common diseases, the Coronavirus appears to be less contagious and deadly even though the reproductive rate of the virus is rated between 1.4 and 2.5 which means it needs serious levels of control and prevention. This comes to show we have been neglecting treacherous illnesses that also need more efforts to be eradicated.

There are also…

The influenza epidemic affects 3-5 million people (severely) each year and results in up to 500 000 deaths. Considering there is a vaccine preventing the most dangerous mutations of the virus and medications softening the effects and shortening the duration are readily available those numbers are huge. And more concerning than the COVID-19 ones.

Source for statistics: Mediascape

The HIV epidemic is also something troubling humanity for years. In 2018 37.9 million people were confirmed to be carrying the disease, an average of 1.7 million become newly affected each year.770 00 people died as a result of the infection – a large number yet something showing progress – a 55% decline since the all-time high of 2004.

Source for statistics: Hiv.Gov

HIV/AIDS is one of the leading causes of death from a single infections agent. Right above it on the list is another deadly disease that keeps claiming a large number of victims each year. Caused by the mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the illness with the same name has affected around 10 million people in 2018. Tuberculosis is preventable and curable and the confirmed cases of people carrying the virus fall with around 2% each year. Despite that the number of affected people and resulting deaths is still too high and if we want to achieve the milestones set by the End TB Strategy for 2030 the rate needs to accelerate to 4 or 5% annual decline.

Source for statistics: W.H.O

The Ebola Virus Disease had a similar effect on the public in 2014-2015 as COVID-19 has today. The noise around EVD has declined, however, it remains one of the deadliest viruses known to humankind and still existing despite the small number of victims. The mortality rate of the sickness is 50% , vaccines and treatment are still in development and this makes it as dangerous as it is.

Source for statistics: W.H.O

It is a call to action

COVID-19 should by no means be underestimated. It is a serious threat that needs our attention and urgent efforts to subside the damage and prevent a pandemic outburst.

Following preventive measures and respecting government and health worker instructions is a secure way to keep things under control. Remembering that risk factors include age, location, current health status, and other variables can also help look at the situation more realistically and reduce the levels of panic. Many of the death cases are in fact caused by pneumonia as a side-effect of a weakened immune system after suffering from the virus.

While it is understandable why the freshly discovered (and rapidly developing) hazard is taking all the attention it would be wise to remember there are many other lurking threats we need to take care of. Solving one problem is a great start but many more wait.

Poverty, world hunger, environmental crisis, deforestation, inequality, social injustice, and pollution, for example, are amongst the other world crises that have an equal impact on our future. The effects of those phenomena can mean the end of the world as we know it and result in irreversible negative consequences. It is already happening and it is time to act.

Coronavirus comapred to other diseases
The most impactful events of 2020

The most impactful disasters and events of 2020 so far.

Why we strike again by Greta Thundberg, Luisa Neubauer, Angela Valenzuela

Coronavirus: What can we learn from the Spanish flu?


Cornavirus statistics
Current status of COVID-19

You can get constant updates for the spreading of COVID-19 in W.H.O’s live page.

Coronavirus Timeline

The timeline of the COVID-19 events

Coronavirus myths

True and false rumors about the COVID-19 virus explained

Coronavirus and the flu

COVID-19 compared to Infuenza

Coronavirus compared to other diseases

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