Coronavirus scares us because it’s new, unknown and has no vaccine yet

At Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 29, 2020.

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There is a virus out there that is frequently mutating, can get us very sick with fever, fatigue, and open the door for other life-threatening infections, including pneumonia. It passes easily from one to the other by coughing and sneezing and touching. It has already infected close to 20 million people here in the USA and killed more than 8,000 since October. By the time the season is over, this virus will likely kill or enable the killing (from other diseases) of over half a million people worldwide.

The name of this virus is influenza, and we know it well, it has been around for centuries, even if it is constantly changing and providing new challenges. Still, the fact that we are used to hearing about it causes us to take it for granted.

At Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 29, 2020.

There is another respiratory virus, from a category of viruses we also know but an entirely new and powerful strain. It is creating havoc on the other side of the world, leading to entire regions being cordoned off, which has caused more hysteria which spreads more virus as people try to escape the restrictions. This coronavirus has killed over a hundred people, probably much more, but it feels like a more imminent personal threat than it really is, because it is new, unknown, and we are hearing and thinking about it all the time.



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