Mailbag: No such thing as 'Wuhan flu'

Mailbag: No such thing as 'Wuhan flu'

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David Dowrie (May 11 letter) states that the annual number of deaths in the US is 63,000 and asks why we don’t take the same measures for the common flu as we are doing for the “Wuhan flu.”

Perhaps I can explain.

There is no such thing as the “Wuhan flu.” COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus designated as SARS-COV-2, which is not a flu virus. The common flu is caused by any one of a number of influenza viruses. The annual death rate in the US for the common flu has been between 12,000 and 61,000 since 2010, according to the CDC, and averages about 36,000, not 63,000.

There are vaccines for the common flu and a number of antiviral and other drugs to successfully treat it. For COVID-19, there is no vaccine and no drugs that have proven successful in treating it. Recent studies, such as from the University of Washington, have projected 135,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US by August, and some projections are for as many as 240,000 deaths over a similar period of time.

These projections assume that at least some mitigation measures stay place, not “opening up.” Opening up could substantially increase the death toll.

Perhaps when vaccines and medicines for COVID-19 have been developed, we can treat it as we do the common flu, but in the meantime, please observe the mitigation measures put in place by our governor, stay safe and help protect others.

G. Brent Dalrymple

Corvallis

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