Recently, the news has been abuzz about the strain of coronavirus spreading around the world. The coronavirus, while threatening, is not likely to be the disease to end humanity. For context, this virus is a new strain of the preexisting coronavirus, named as such because under a microscope it looks like the corona of the sun. Its damage has been almost entirely localized to China. As of Feb. 6th, there are over 500 confirmed deaths. However this becomes less daunting when you consider that this is out of over 20,000 infections.
This coronavirus is not as lethal as people think. Using 1100 deaths per 43,000 infections, we can calculate that only about 3% of those contracting the virus have died. The vast majority of deaths have been among the very young, very old or those with preexisting conditions affecting their immune system. So, essentially, around one in thirty-three people, very often those with preexisting weakness to diseases, will die.
Why is the coronavirus second only to the impeachment in the media when the U.S. has 11 confirmed cases in a country of 327 million? For one, the media makes money off of drama. Presenting the coronavirus as more dangerous makes more people tune in which increases media companies’ profits. It’s financially sound for them to make a giant deal about it whether it’s a threat or not.
Secondly, this virus is a prime opportunity to present China’s government in a negative light. China and the U.S. are both political and economic rivals. The media is using this chance to criticize the Chinese government. To be clear, China is an authoritarian state, but can we truly say that the U.S. would handle this outbreak better? Stores sell out of food and water anytime there’s a hurricane in the U.S., so imagine the panic that an ongoing disease would cause. Stores would sell out in days and restocking would be slow and insufficient. China’s methods are extreme and restrictive, but they are directly trying to save their people’s lives in the best way they can while preventing further spread of the virus.
The coronavirus is dangerous. It could well become a health crisis, but it is not the harbinger of death it might initially seem, and the reason the media is covering it so extensively is for profit purposes. We should keep an eye on it, but for now, we should be content with virus screening and international aid. Just make sure to keep yourself as healthy and clean as possible, and we can all carry on.
Featured Image Citation: “Corona details ESA423296.jpg” by ESA/CESAR. is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 IGO Generic. No changes were made to the image. Use of this photo does not indicate photographer endorsement of this article.