WHO advisor gives exclusive insight on COVID-19 vs. seasonal flu

LEFT: A digital graphic representation of what COVID-19's coronavirus looks like under a...
LEFT: A digital graphic representation of what COVID-19's coronavirus looks like under a microscope. RIGHT: A digital graphic representation of influenza virus.(Centers for Disease Control)
Updated: Apr. 9, 2020 at 10:12 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - NewsChannel 10 spoke with an advisor to the World Health Organzation today, Doctor Jon Abramson, who was involved in pandemic planning with the Academy of Pediatrics while chairing their committee on infectious diseases.

Dr. Abramson tells us the seasonal flu transmission rate is about 1.3, meaning for every person who gets it, they infect about 1.3 people.

On the other hand, the COVID-19 transmission rate is about 2.5, so for every one person with the disease, they infect more than two others. That is why it spreads so quickly.

He says there are also clear racial differences with COVID-19.

While different races have difference susceptibility to certain diseases, social factors also play a role.

“For instance, black people have a higher instance of poverty. Their ability to stay home and not work puts them at greater risk of not having the food, etc., so they’re more likely to be out there, not staying at home and not able to practice social distancing,” said Dr. Abramson.

He also says the flu tends to go down in the summer and come back in the fall and winter, but it’s still unknown what will happen with novel coronavirus.

“There’s different opinions about whether that’s going to happen with coronavirus, and the flat out answer is we don’t know,” said Dr. Abramson. A good example is, flu pandemics have second waves, so it slows down in summer, and the second wave occurs in the fall and winter. We saw that in the 2009 flu pandemic."

Dr. Abramson says there may be a very large number of asymptomatic people who can transfer the disease to other people who do become symptomatic.

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