The Grapevine

Coronavirus vs. Flu: Which Is The Bigger Threat To Americans?

At the moment, more than 50 million people are currently on lockdown in China due to the novel coronavirus, which is suspected to have come from animals and has now already killed more than a hundred people and infected thousands more. Without a definite cure and scientists still understanding how to best approach it, the virus has already managed to reach 12 other countries besides China, raising concern of a possible global epidemic that can infect hundreds of thousands.

Of course, this has prompted the U.S. to take some steps in order to prevent it from spreading in the country since there are already confirmed cases in it as well. But according to experts, as much as alarming it is that coronavirus is spreading, Americans have another threat that’s already at their front door: the flu.

Deadliest Flu Season

With over 15 million flu illnesses for the 2019-2020 season, 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths in the U.S., many experts are calling the current flu season as the most dangerous one in a long time. And people have no idea whether it will start to slow down or gradually pick up again before it ends sometime in March-April. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have already been 54 flu-related pediatric deaths just this season, and it’s all because of the influenza B virus.

Even higher are the yearly estimates, with WHO stating that the flu season kills up to 650,000 people annually and infects around 5 million people with severe sickness at the same amount of time.

“When we think about the relative danger of this new coronavirus and influenza, there’s just no comparison. Coronavirus will be a blip on the horizon in comparison. The risk is trivial,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said.

The problem, however, is that while the flu season affects a lot annually, it doesn’t get as much media coverage the way that coronavirus does, despite killing more people each year than the latter. As such, Americans aren’t particularly worried about it.

Flu vaccine Health care experts recommend that everyone 6 months and older – including the elderly, chronically ill people, and expectant mothers – receive the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. U.S. Department of Defense