The absolutely outrageous claims by some broadcasters that this coronavirus COVID-19 is just the common flu would be laughed at in Germany, where the average citizen has learned enough about their anatomy and diseases to refer themselves to a specialist when ill.

Citizens in developed Asia and Europe receive three times more science education. Such broadcasters there would soon be out of a job.

An educated citizenry knows to ask specific questions about any emerging disease threat.

How likely is an infected person to die? That is the “case fatality rate.” Sure, far more people die from the common flu than from this emerging virus, so far. But 30,000 deaths out of 40 million infected is a less-than .01 chance of dying. COVID-19 kills between 2 and 3 patients per hundred.

Some cancers may be 100 percent fatal — but not contagious. So the rate of contagion (expected number of new cases likely to be caused by one case in a population where all persons in the population are susceptible) is important.

This factor of contagion is called the basic reproductive number R0. This number also depends on whether other people in the population are immune due to prior exposure or vaccination. So how contagious is COVID-19 compared to other contagious diseases? The average number of new cases that will arise from one infected person (R0) varies for the following agents.

Ebola (outbreak in Congo 2014) ... 1.5–2.5

SARS (outbreak in China 2003) ... 2–5

HIV/AIDS (arose 1980s) ... 2–5

Mumps ... 4–7

Measles ... 12–18

Compared to the above levels of contagion, COVID-19 appears to infect at a rate of 1.4–3.8. But the Influenza epidemic of 1918 that began in Kansas and spread worldwide had a rate of only 2–3 but killed 675,000 in the United States and 50 million worldwide. So, this R0 measure alone does not predict how fast the infection spreads or how fatal it will be.

There are other important questions medical researchers are working on answering.

To what extent are there silent carriers who show no symptoms but who spread the infection? How long is an affected patient infectious? Does the disease agent travel as an airborne virus, in airborne droplets or by other contact? How long can the infectious agent survive in the environment?

The number of casualties that COVID-19 will cause will also depend on many cultural factors, including how willing a population is to “stand in place” to limit the transfer. But it likewise depends on each general citizen’s intelligent understanding of these many factors.

We do not have to know about R0 values, but we need to understand different rates of contagion are important. We don’t have to have a degree in biochemistry, but we need to recognize that measles viruses spread readily but N95 masks can keep out the droplet-borne viruses like COVID-19.

Well-educated civilians in Korea or Germany ask more questions, understand more of the disease they are facing and act to keep fatalities as low as possible. But a brief online article or a short talk with your doctor cannot replace two semesters of schooling in how your body works and how diseases spread. When it comes to science illiteracy, the US can claim the title of being Number One!

Why does the American population have one of the lowest levels of science literacy of developed nations?

Some of the blame lies with our science societies themselves. For decades, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has advocated “less science, not more” despite scientists pointing out that “less science is less science.” The NCLB, Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards have kept science trivial. State Boards of Education water down science requirements by substituting computer courses; learning to code is not going to help anyone in this coming epidemic.

Aside from the brief post-Sputnik panic, America has discounted science as a necessity for students not aiming for a science career. As a result, we will face unnecessary deaths from science illiteracy.

Just ask your doctor if more science education is right for you.

(25) comments

Aim_High

Kansasforever Mar 6, 2020 6:18pm

"Well since there have been 190k cases of influenza and 24k deaths this year vs 12 deaths and 232 cases of corona virus, a flu vaccine is more likely going to save your life!"

LMAO! While this statement may be true, the question you're arguing with me about was whether the flu vaccine is useful to TREAT corona virus. Trumps statement was no different than asking if we could use a smallpox vaccine to treat HIV... Flu and corona are 2 different viruses. I'm not sure how else to say that so you understand.

And just to be clear, my original statement was "Our President was on TV today suggesting we use the flu vaccine to treat coronavirus... Saaaaad." and your (snarky!) response was "Getting the flu vaccine does make a difference if you knew anything. The virus will filter thru as spring and summer approach."

One last time.... Getting the flu vaccine makes no difference to someone with coronavirus. There is one thing we can agree on though... and that is the anti-vax crowd is REAAAAAL quiet! Saaad!

Aim_High

Sorry Hannah, but simply correcting bad information like flu vaccine being a possible cure for coronavirus is not attacking Trump. It's unfortunate Trump is the one who suggested it, but that's not my fault. I'm very happy to see you've been reading and learning from my comments as I see you're now calling the virus is a "threat to all people" and not just a cough and a headache like others have suggested. It's a huge step in fixing science illiteracy. I did notice you are however still calling coronavirus "this flu" so I'll say it one more time. Read this very slowly... "The corona virus and the flu have similar symptoms, but are different viruses."

As far as politicizing and weaponizing, you're the only one who keeps bringing up the names of politicians. I won't respond to that here because that's not what this article is about. Nice try though.

jamesbordonaro

Last April our congressman, Dr. Roger Marshall, fielded questions from community members at Newman Regional Hospital as the Gazette reported here. http://www.emporiagazette.com/area_news/article_a6008c94-6a3d-11e9-844b-5b8e51bc29e7.html

At that meeting, I strongly urged Congressman Marshall to rebuke President Trump's misinformation and conspiracy theories regarding a link between childhood vaccinations and autism. Unfortunately, Dr. Marshall refused to do so. Now we are faced with a president who directly contradicts his own experts at the CDC when he told Fox News' Sean Hannity, that he has a "hunch" that the Coronavirus is no more virulent that the seasonal flu and that most people with the disease should continue to go to work thereby risking exposing others. Are you happy now Congressman?

Aim_High

"while there is no vaccine for corona virus getting all your vaccinations will help you maintain a healthier immune system and thus help in your ability to fight the virus if exposed" from in NHS

Moving the goalposts I see... It's no surprise getting your immunizations is going to make your immune system stronger... but that has to be done BEFORE you get sick. Trump was suggesting using a flu vaccine to treat people who are already sick. If you knew anything you would agree getting a flu vaccine will have zero impact TREATING the corona virus.

Hananova

Aim-to-get-High (no you can't get "high" from CBD oil), you are, as usual, politicizing and weaponizing everything from the mostly biased and bigoted "news" to attack Trump. You are about as truthful as a serial liar, and as obvious as Pinocchio's growing nose.

Aim_High

There's no politicizing here. If you feel stating the facts is "weaponizing everything" then maybe you're on the wrong side of the argument. Corona virus and flu virus have similar symptoms but are two separate viruses. Giving a flu vaccine to people with corona virus isn't going to help them. Feel free to post a link proving me wrong. I'll wait.

Hananova

It's saaad and pathetic that you and other Leftie bigots will use this Coronavirus as as just another chance to attack Trump. It is an ailment that is a threat to all people, and for you to cheapen it, weaponize it, abuse and misuse this killer as a cheap political tactic, is VILE and DESPICABLE.

The Leftist Loons are so extremist, are so perverted, so deranged, the more they will cheer as the more people die of this flu, so they can score political points against our president.

Kansasforever

Well since there have been 190k cases of influenza and 24k deaths this year vs 12 deaths and 232 cases of corona virus, a flu vaccine is more likely going to save your life!

SnowGypsy

Information for those that want it is at our fingertips with the internet. Anyone in panic mode over the corona virus can look at the statistics and what they actually know, not to mention that most deaths involve people with underlying health problems. The largest population of deaths in China involved people 80+. Notice how they keep that part quiet? I don't see the tie in between the corona virus and teaching science in school. I had science in school, 10 years of it, and I still needed to research the virus on the internet. I encourage everyone to look at the facts on the internet and not fall prey to the current media hype where they leave out the most pertinent of details. In the US, more something to blame President Trump for than anything else (too bad they didn't give him sufficient funds to secure the borders). Everyone is responsible for their own health and building their immune system through healthy eating and exercise would be a step in the right direction. There is not always going to be a barely effective vaccine to give people a false sense of security, so plan accordingly.

Gary Lukert

Hey, it isn't always easy to find and then get the precise information wanted. Your comment supports Ignorance and hate. Maybe, you just need a good dose of the corona-virus. You are just covering for a nasty person!

Kansasforever

Dude you have a real problem. Virus is nobodies fault and with incubation period was probably in this country brought by then asymptomatic carriers before it even blew up in china

Gary Lukert

Whatever you write means absolutely nothing.

Hananova

I-Aim-to-get-High- "The effect spring and summer will have on the virus is also still unknown. How could anyone know the effects when it's a brand new thing?"

Yeah, why don't we all just hide in a cave! LOL!

Hananova

I-Aim-to-get-High- "The effect spring and summer will have on the virus is also still unknown. How could anyone know the effects when it's a brand new thing?" Yeah, why don't we all just hide in a cave! LOL!

Wait, that won't work, you and the TDS Klan would demand the government provide you with a free cave! LMAO! BurnTheRich Sanders rides to the Rescue! While Burnie's wife absconds with the education seminar loot! LOL!

Hananova

Sorry, I meant to say the TDS Klan would demand not only a free government cave to hide from the Coronavirus, they would demand separate-but-equal caves!! DIVERSITY caves. A cave for women, a cave for men, a cave for heteros, and a cave for homos, a cave for Hispanics, a cave for Whites,Blacks,Muslims, Jews,Chrisitnas (no cave for China or for Russians) a cave for the rich, a Big cave cave for the poor (there will be millions of poor people when Crazy Bernie is inaugurated.) INCLUSIVE Caves! TOLERANT Caves!! Where all races, genders, lifestyles (including me and my horse-"partner"), classes, religions are anal-ized, classified, pigeonholed and micromanaged so we can see how DIVERSE and TOLERANT the Government Social Scientists are LMAO! [smile][happybirthday][smile]

aulani

Your comment, while it began with intelligent information, plowed itself right into a heap of nonsense when you mention securing the borders and not blaming Trump. Of course he is to blame. Just listening to him try to address the people at the Corona Virus presser was enough to make any intelligent person cringe in disgust. He is totally uninformed, has no respect for Science, and has no words to assure this nation of anything. Your last two words say exactly what we must all do, "plan accordingly." And we can do that with my own last two words: vote Democrat.

Hananova

Aulani - "Trump. Of course he is to blame."

Your comment does not even rise to the level of a pathetic joke. Maybe you could recover your mind by not watching TV or listening to the "news" for a day or two.

Everyone knows that Coronavirus is another Russian scheme to interfere in the 2020 US election. (Holy Morons, Batman! He will actually probably believe that!)

billrw3

Ah the halcyon days of early March and 45's insistence that the whole thing would just vanish. Even still he's done nothing at the Federal level to preclude citizens from spreading infections. He sprays tepid good news and never faces any real facts - when asked what he would say to those who are afraid, he told the reporter it was a nasty question. He doesn't inspire hope, he has spent so much time seeding distrust of basic science and even asking if a flu vaccine can help with an entirely unrelated virus.

Governors trying to buy medical equipment only to be outbid by the federal government after Donald directed them to do so. Waste of taxpayer dollars at Donalds direction. The only justice will be if he suffers it himself, which would be the most brilliant justice (even were it just to be a passing ailment to him) since he insisted it was nothing.

Aim_High

Republicans gutting education every chance they get combined with Republicans claiming corona is just mild flu and other nonsense certainly can't help.

Aim_High

Our President was on TV today suggesting we use the flu vaccine to treat coronavirus... Saaaaad.

Kansasforever

Getting the flu vaccine does make a difference if you knew anything. The virus will filter thru as spring and summer approach.

Aim_High

Medical experts have said getting a flu vaccine will have zero impact treating corona virus. If you're going to say things like "if you knew anything" you should probably make sure you're right first. The effect spring and summer will have on the virus is also still unknown. How could anyone know the effects when it's a brand new thing?

Kansasforever

"while there is no vaccine for corona virus getting all your vaccinations will help you maintain a healthier immune system and thus help in your ability to fight the virus if exposed" from in NHS

Hananova

COVid or TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). Which is worse?

Do you TDS people have a life? You must have a nice pension check so you spend all day attacking Trump, where 3-4 other people read your comments.

It's better for your mental, and physical, health if you go outside and look at things as they really are. You know, reality? Like, look at a tree, and say "a tree." See what color it is, what it smells like, note how high it is, does it have any movement in the wind, any animals, etc. Appreciate the world.

The you can go back inside, sit at your computer/dumb-phone and complain about how Trump hates trees! LOL!

Aim_High

If you work hard and stop sniffing trees, you can have a nice pension too!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.