chrissyg wrote:Agreed. But when people say its no worse than flu, i get more worried...
Firstly, the people who say that think they have flue when they have a cold. Flue is extremely serious. I've had it three times in my life and on each occasion I was totally knocked out. I've had colds dozens of times and there is a very big difference.
Secondly, there isn't really an "it". All respiratory tract infections are the same. For most people they feel ill, to a greater or lesser extent, but recover from it with no serious medical intervention other than self medication with paracetamol and/or, at least in my case, plenty of coffee liberally laced with rum. That has happened to me with the three flue infections and the countless cold infections I've had so far. In a small number of cases the infection leads to pneumonia, which is probably what put you in hospital Chrissyg. The pneumonia may be just due to the virus or the inflammation, caused by the virus, may make you more susceptible to bacterial pneumonia. To recover from this usually requires hospitalisation in order to provide increased oxygen flow by one means or another and possibly intravenous antibiotics. In a yet smaller number of cases the pneumonia develops into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, ARDS. These are the people who need full intubated ventilation. Even if they recover many will suffer permanent lung damage and many don't recover.
The main difference between a cold, flue and SARS-CoV-2 is that the probability of passing to the more advanced stages is higher in SARS-CoV-2, especially in older people, the onset of the advanced stages is more sudden and more rapid and the severity of the advanced stages is much worse. It is not unique. The original SARS outbreak in Asia in 2003, also known as SARS-CoV and the MERS outbreak on the Arabian peninsula in 2012, also known as MERS-CoV or Camel Flue, have similar symptoms. SARS-CoV has a higher mortality rate than SARS-CoV-2 but does not spread quite as easily. MERS-CoV has a massive mortality rate, similar to Ebola, but like Ebola only passes on through direct contact so is easier to contain.
Since these diseases are all from the same family of viruses, and there are thousands of variants in a whole range of animals, the fear is that one day a variant will appear that can pass from human to human as easily as SARS-CoV-2 but with the mortality rate of MERS-CoV. That is why all governments around the world need to come down on any new virus like a ton of bricks, not pretend it is happening as China did with SARS-CoV and, to a lesser extent, with SARS-CoV-2.
It is also worth noting that even when a vaccine is developed it will be least useful in those that need it most, i.e. the old and those with compromised immune systems. Vaccines work by injecting something, a dead version of the virus, a version of the virus with reduced activity, a closely related but non/less harmful virus or some genetic material taken from the virus, which will provoke the bodies immune system to produce antibodies. Then if the person becomes infected with the virus at a later date the antibodies start fighting it without delay and so it cannot get established. Unfortunately older people tend to have less well functioning immune systems so they, together with younger people with compromised immune systems, tend not to produce enough antibodies and so may not have full immunity. It is still worth doing, because many will gain enough protection, but it is not a silver bullet.