Without a doubt, the coronavirus, now labeled a pandemic, has sent the United States—and the entire world—into a tailspin. Politicians are shutting down schools, restaurants, and sporting events. The economy is taking a hit, and people are plain worried.
But the way I see it, we would all benefit from trying to focus on three pieces of potential good news…
Is there a silver lining to the crisis?
For one, the coronavirus has a low fatality rate. Which means it’s fatal to only a small percentage of people with the bug. And that’s counting only the people actually tested and diagnosed.
Many cases appear to be so mild that people may have it and don’t even realize it. Which means they aren’t being tested, treated, or tracked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They are obviously non-fatal and don’t enter the statistics regarding mortality.
So, the actual death rate for all people infected with coronavirus must be even lower than reported.
Secondly, as you likely know by now, the coronavirus appears to be dangerous primarily among specific groups of people—especially older people with other chronic health diseases. In this way, it’s very different from the deadly and highly contagious “Spanish Flu” epidemic of 1918, which affected everyone—even the young and healthy.
The Spanish Flu was so deadly, it killed up to 20 percent of the world population—including many soldiers fighting in WWI. In fact, during the summer of 1918, the German army had mounted their last counter-offensive and were driving back into France. But they were stopped dead in their tracks by the flu…literally.
(Back in 1995, while I was working at Walter Reed Medical Center, I suggested testing autopsy specimens from soldiers who died of Spanish Flu in 1918, to find out what made it so contagious and so deadly. The specimens were archived in the historical collections I managed. Jeff Taubenberg, Ph.D., took up my idea and ended up with his own fiefdom at the National Institutes of Health [NIH]. And he’s now frequently quoted about the coronavirus.)
Third, more and more people are finally practicing good hygiene, such as regularly washing their hands and avoiding contaminated surfaces. They’re also practicing social isolation to avoid crowds. (As you know, I always recommend you adopt these same sensible hygiene habits every cold and flu season.) And many more folks are even now working from home, which I also highly recommend, as it has many health benefits—including avoiding commutes, traffic, pollution, and accidents.
So, deaths from other deadly viruses and infections—such as the flu, pneumonia, and meningitis (typically passed in colleges, which are all closing down)—should all plummet. And stress levels should decrease from being allowed to work from home.
In fact, the total population could actually end up healthier—and total death rates will ultimately drop—during this crisis.
It’s certainly a scientifically plausible theory, but one you won’t likely hear from the dire headlines and doom-and-gloom in the mainstream media. But at times like this, it’s always worth focusing on the positive.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this on my Facebook page. Or, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.