The date is now March 30th and information about the coronavirus has changed quite a bit. The United States is now the world’s leader in coronavirus cases passing Italy, Iran, and other countries. Americans are forced to stay at home, on top of school and business closures.  How did this happen?

To start, the coronavirus is similar to the flu in some ways but can cause mass infection and death, which are not commonly associated with strains of influenza. The symptoms of both the coronavirus and the flu can often overlap causing confusion for people with symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms of the flu include “fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and, sometimes, vomiting, diarrhea and pneumonia”. These symptoms are the exact same as the coronavirus, which makes it difficult to decipher which is which. On paper, the coronavirus looks like a copy and paste clone of the common flu, but the virus has one more trick up its sleeve when it comes to transmission. According to an article by Hopkins Medicine, “Both can be spread from person to person through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking.” The difference comes in aerosols. According to the same article, “COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.” This means that a non-infected person could be exposed and infected with the virus without the presence of an infected person nearby. This makes everyday tasks become impossible, which has led to massive shutdowns of businesses, schools, and restaurants. The rapid transmission of the virus has led to millions of Americans cooped up in their homes, only allowed to leave for essentials like gas and groceries.

Currently, this is the condition of America, but scientists say that this could have been prevented. The president of the United States closed the borders to China, cutting off what the public thought was the only way of entry, but refused to quarantine and close businesses and events. The president later tweeted “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths.” This statement heavily downplayed the virus which led to Americans traveling and going on with their lives, while European countries started to heavily contribute to the sheer number of cases that came to follow. Before the United States was the most infected place on Earth, borders could have been closed and quarantine measures could have been put into place. The hesitation and uncertainty of the president led to the mass amounts of death and panic based on misconceptions comparing the flu to coronavirus. 

Finally, vaccinations have a huge part to play in comparing the coronavirus to influenza. Every year, many Americans get vaccinated for the flu shot. Wikipedia states, “A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins”. Due to the constant need of flu shots every year, Americans have built up a response to the virus via a system called antibodies. This can “slow the spread” and give doctors an idea how to prepare “vaccinations against expected strains” of the flu. The same cannot be done when the coronavirus was introduced. The Jackson Laboratory states: “They have been known to be infectious for decades but were initially recognized for only mild illnesses such as the common cold.” Although the type of virus has been around for years, no attempt at a vaccine for the coronavirus has ever been developed in the United States as it was not needed. The only other coronavirus that is infectious, is the common cold, but it usually causes little to no deaths. Up until this point, there was never a need to develop a vaccine for any type of the coronavirus making the process even harder. This stops the flu argument right in its tracks. With no known vaccine or antibody treatment, the virus continued to spread while guidelines from scientists were ignored and schools remained open furthering the spread of the virus. It is not realistic to blame the problem on one person. Little was known about the virus at the time and it was a plausible thought to think that the coronavirus and influenza were similar. Now that the facts are known, Americans should follow guidelines and stay inside to prevent the spread of the virus. This problem will go away but not without the help of Americans. Because the virus is so serious, steps must be taken so that life can continue as usual. This can be achieved by staying home and listening to local and state guidelines about the coronavirus. 

As time progressed more knowledge about the virus became present to the public causing the public to stop down playing the virus. During these times of uncertainty is when scientists believe spread on the virus started to take effect. In the future pandemics and disease will be taken more seriously around the world and the public’s perception will change greatly. But points can be looked at that support the fact that with the lack of information COVID (in its early stages) strongly resembles the flu.

I’ve Been Diagnosed With the New Coronavirus (COVID-19). What Should I Expect?John Hopkins 15 March. 2020 Web. 18 March 2020

Influenza vaccineWikipedia 15 March 2020. Web. 15 March 2020.

Italy demand help from European Union as crisis deepensGlobal News 15 March. 2020 Web 18 March 2020

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