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COVID-19 can be far more dangerous than the flu. Facts and figures :: Society :: RBC

Number of people killed from influenza and COVID-19 epidemic


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If you analyze data on the number of deaths from infectious diseases over the past 100 years and calculate the average number of deaths per month, the deadliest is the Spanish flu, the so-called Spanish flu, which began in the spring of 1918 and lasted for two years. According to various estimates, from 17.4 million to 100 million people died, that is, up to 6.3 million people per month. The scale of the disaster complicated the post-war period and the level of medical care.

The following influenza outbreaks turned out to be much smaller in scale in terms of the number of victims, and to some extent can be correlated. The latest epidemic before COVID-19 is swine flu. The influenza A (H1N1) virus was first discovered in Mexico in April 2009 and spread worldwide within a few weeks. According to official data from WHO, the epidemic killed 18.5 thousand people. However, the data were recalculated and came to the conclusion that there were far more victims, ranging from 155,000 to 575,000.

New restrictions from COVID-19 around the world. much

Photo: Pilar Olivares / Reuters

So, according to the maximum estimate, the virus kills an average of 70,000 people per month. In August 2010, the WHO announced the transition of the disease to a post-epidemic stage. Thus, the epidemic lasted for 15 months.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for eight months (since the WHO announcement) and no one can predict how long it will last. Since then, more people have died than swine flu in 2009-2010.

In terms of total deaths, the countries most affected by COVID-19 were the United States, Brazil, and India. Italy, Spain and France-European countries that first met the epidemic are also among the top 10.

The list of states with the most deaths per million people looks similar, but the countries within them are distributed differently.

Russia, which was included in the first 15 countries by total death toll, ranked 54th when calculating the number of COVID-19 victims per million (32,000 deaths). At the same time, WHO is guided by data from its operations headquarters to fight the coronavirus. At the same time, Rosstat relies on the death certificate from the registry office, showing much more deaths. According to the latest data provided, more than 55,000 Russians died from COVID-19 from April to September.

What quarantine measures were returned to the Russian region. much

Photo: Dmitry Rogulin / TASS

Influenza and COVID-19 have different age risk groups. In the first case, according to the WHO, the disease poses a danger to children, pregnant women and the elderly. When it comes to coronavirus, the elderly here are primarily at risk (and people of all ages with chronic illnesses the same applies to the flu.- RBK).

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Ugur Shahin

In an article on mortality and immune patterns by age for SARS-CoV-2, published in the journal Nature in November, researchers collected confirmed data on the age distribution in 45 countries. In this study, RBC selected a total of 662 million populations from 14 countries in Europe and Latin America and calculated mortality rates in each age category (samples were based on comparability of age ranges considered in studies for these countries). box). COVID-19 has been found to be the most dangerous for seniors over 70. This portion accounts for nearly two-thirds of all deaths.

This disease is most easily tolerated by children. The 20-40 year old group accounts for 2% of deaths. However, people at this age with mild infections can contribute to the spread of the disease.

Despite the fact that more age categories are attributable to influenza risk groups, there are more cases of severe forms of disease progression due to COVID-19, scientists say. This is because in the case of influenza, exposure to past seasonal infections and mass vaccinations can limit the number of infections. However, because of their novelty, everyone is potentially vulnerable to the virus that causes COVID-19.

When and how long the patient is contagious

Another cunning feature of the coronavirus is its incubation period. The average time from the moment of infection to the onset of symptoms of COVID-19 is 5 to 6 days, but it can take up to 14 days. For influenza, the incubation period averages 2 days, but it can also be 4 days. This means that because of COVID-19, a person can potentially no longer feel the disease.

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Photo: Pavel Kassin / TASS

Recent studies show that people with COVID-19 are longer contagious. According to Rospotrebnadzor, with influenza, patients do so a day before the onset of clinical symptoms of the disease. The maximum period for a patient to be transmitted is 3 days.

According to the WHO, people infected with the new type of coronavirus are most contagious two days before symptoms begin and in the early stages of the disease. People with severe illness can spread COVID-19 longer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are contagious within 10 days and have reduced immunity within up to 20 days after symptoms appear.

Containment measures and use of masks

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, WHO recommends the use of a set of measures. In addition to wearing a mask, this includes distance maintenance and frequent hand washing and disinfection. The effectiveness of the extensive use of masks has not been proven, but experts point to the need to use masks in crowded places, such as public transport and shops (such requirements were introduced by Rospotrebnadzor throughout Russia from October 28).

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Mikhail Mischstein

In Europe, protests took place against actions taken by the state, including requirements for the use of personal protective equipment. And in Russia, a petition for wearing a mandatory mask appeared (by November 15, a little over 13,000 people signed it). Appeals, among other things, indicate that there is a risk of self-infection by improper or too long use of the mask (WHO indicates that the mask should be used carefully). In addition, masks can be exactly beneficial in terms of “reducing the potential risk of infection when in contact with a sick person during the disease period before symptoms begin”. This is the focus of the WHO’s recommendations. “Masks can act as a barrier against the spread of virus-infected respiratory droplets in infected people.”

According to Rospotrebnadzor, wearing a mask reduces your chances of getting all kinds of respiratory infections by using gloves by 1.8 times.

In one of the most recent studies, Japanese scientists came to the conclusion that a cloth mask protects 17% of the virus particles, a three-layer surgical mask-47%, and a N95 type mask 79%.

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