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COVID-19 Alert #4 - How to Keep Your Family Safe

COVID-19 Alert #4 - How to Keep Your Family Safe

Myths and Truths

There is a lot of information on the internet about what is going on with the Coronavirus, as it continues its spread around the world.  

We wanted to take this time to bust some (potentially dangerous) myths and provide you with more accurate information so you can become more knowledgeable.

Myth #1:  It's No More Dangerous Than the Seasonal Flu
False!  The typical seasonal flu has a Case Fatality Rate of 0.1% (a measure of lethality), whereas the Coronavirus' rate was recently calculated to be 3.4% by the WHO.  That is 34x more deadly than the regular flu!  Even if it is much lower, like it might be in South Korea (0.7%), that is still seven times more deadly than what we all worry about in the winter.  This is a serious disease, and you should take this situation with the respect it deserves.  

Myth #2: Face Masks Don't Work
False.  Catching the disease isn't binary but is probabilistic.  The more you can do to reduce your exposure to the virus, the lower your chances of catching it.  Your best protection against droplet spread (from coughs and sneezes), will be to protect your airway and your eyes.  Wearing an N95 or P100 respirator, plus safety glasses/googles, will keep you pretty protected in public (as long as you wash your hands!).  Surgical (ie the common blue face masks seen everywhere) are designed to prevent doctors from spreading germs to their patients by keeping germs in.  They are not sealed against the face well, and can allow droplets in.  However, if that is all you have (or even a scarf or bandana), it is better than nothing and will provide at least some protection over a bare face.

Myth #3:  It Only Kills the Elderly or Those with Underlying Conditions
False.  Although older people and those with compromised immune systems seem to be much more affected by the virus, there have been cases of young, healthy people succumbing to it.  And even if younger folks believe it isn't horrible to get it, since their symptoms will probably be mild, they will become carriers and can infect those more vulnerable to it. Don't be that guy.

Myth #4:  It Will End this Summer
Maybe.  Although the seasonal flus (Influenza A and B, H1N1, etc) tend to be diminished in the summer due to increased heat and humidity, it is unclear if this type of virus will follow the same course.  Countries in warm climates, such as Thailand and Singapore, are still dealing with this epidemic, but it does seem to be accelerating more in more temperate zones.  Stay tuned as virologists learn more about its properties.

Myth #5:  A Vaccine Will Be Ready in a Few Months
False!  Even though there are some very promising starts, it simply takes time to find a viable potential vaccine, test it for safety and efficacy, and then manufacture on a global scale.  The CDC is setting expectations that an effective vaccine is at least 12-18 months away from distribution at the earliest, so don't plan on this solving the problem in the short-term. 

Myth #6:  Kids Don't Get It
False.  A recent study of 70k cases in China show that children under 10 years old actually make up 2.5% of the people that have tested positive. The good news is that there has not been a single death of a child under 10 in all of the confirmed cases so far.  The biggest question yet to be answered is whether they are  considered disease vectors, carrying and transmitting the virus amongst adults.