The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday recognized the outbreak of the new coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern – a decision made during a meeting of the WHO emergency committee. WHO Director-General Tedros Gebreisos noted that the reason for this decision was not in the pace of the spread of the virus in China, but because new cases of coronavirus are being recorded in other countries. Meanwhile, the American media are calling to pay attention not only to the coronavirus, but also to the rampant flu in the country, from which 8.2 thousand people have already died this season. In Russia, different institutions have different assessments of the situation with the incidence of influenza. Experts note that the flu is a relatively less hazard than coronavirus, as it is a controlled infection: there are drugs and vaccines for it. However, they acknowledge that Russian influenza statistics are not perfect and may not reflect the full picture of the incidence.
In recent weeks, the American media amid the situation with the coronavirus are trying to draw public attention to the situation with the flu. “If you live in the United States, your chance of meeting with coronavirus is extremely low,” NPR notes. “Another ferocious respiratory infection threatens people’s lives – the flu: it is now very active in the United States.” “A new type of coronavirus is a global threat, it has already been confirmed by five people in the USA, countries are closing borders, Americans are buying masks faster than stores are replenishing their supplies, but there is another virus that has already infected 15 million people in our country and which has caused “8.2 thousand people die,” CNN draws attention. “This is not a new pandemic – this is the flu.” Publications refer to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
At the same time, the CDC notes that the hospitalization rate is 24.1 cases per 100 thousand people – the indicator is “similar to the data for this period in comparison with previous epidemic seasons”: “The mortality rate from influenza and pneumonia decreased from 7.1% to 6, 7% and does not exceed the epidemic threshold. ” Specialists at the National Institute for the Study of Allergic and Infectious Diseases (USA) call this epidemic season one of the worst in the entire history of observation, but a number of experts draw attention to the fact that “it is not the worst.” Thus, according to the CDC, the average mortality rate is 12 thousand cases annually, and during the epidemic season 2017–2018, 61 thousand people died, the total number of cases amounted to 45 million people.
According to WHO estimates, the annual flu and its complications in the world are the cause of death of approximately 650 thousand people.
According to the Russian Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza of the Russian Ministry of Health (St. Petersburg), which publishes weekly reports on the situation with the spread of influenza in Russia and the world, in the US during the week of January 13-19, “the frequency of requests for medical care was 5%, which is double above the threshold (2.4%) “:” In 35 states, New York and Puerto Rico, there was a high incidence of influenza and SARS. ” And in Europe there is an increase in the incidence of influenza: the spread of influenza was recorded in 23 countries.
According to data from Russia, the incidence of influenza and SARS in the week of January 20 to 26 averaged 703 cases per 100 thousand people: the incidence of SARS was 701.3 cases per 100 thousand people, the incidence of influenza was 1.9 cases. “The situation with influenza can be considered epidemic,” say specialists at the research institute of influenza. “This week, compared with the previous one, the incidence of influenza and SARS has continued,” experts say. “For the first time this week, the incidence of influenza and SARS has exceeded the epidemic threshold by 3.6%.” The excess of epidemiological thresholds for the population as a whole was detected in seven Russian cities, in eight more cities the thresholds were exceeded only among children 7-14 years old, in three more among adults and in another city among children 0-2 and 3-6 years old ” .
For its part, Rospotrebnadzor notes the excess of weekly epidemic thresholds in 11 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, as well as in 6 regional capitals (without exceeding the epidemic threshold in the region).
Nevertheless, the head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova on Wednesday described the situation with the flu in Russia as the “pre-epidemic level”: “We have virtually no constituent entities of the Russian Federation with virus exceeded epidemic thresholds,” she said. “All the measures we took in the autumn period and in the beginning of winter, they had their effect, and today the incidence of influenza is below the epidemic level. ” Note that in Russia, according to the end of January, about 74 million people were vaccinated against flu – more than 50.5% of the population.
In September 2019, the medical journal The Lancet published a study by Chinese scientists, according to which the flu causes 88.1 thousand people die in this country every year – the mortality rate is 1.6–2.6%. Now the mortality rate from coronavirus, according to the State Health Commission in China, is 2.2%. Recall that in China the number of confirmed cases of diseases caused by a new coronavirus infection is 7711 (an increase of 24% per day), 170 people died. Experts note that mortality is lower than “with SARS / SARS (9.6%; outbreak in 2003) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (36%) caused by pathogens of the SARS / SARS family of coronaviruses”.
The chief doctor of the Leader-Medicine medical center, infectious disease specialist Yevgeny Timakov, noted that now the mortality rate in the USA from influenza is 0.05%, and noted that it is not entirely correct to compare flu and coronavirus.
“The epidemic of influenza and other viral infections has not been canceled,” Mr. Timakov commented on the situation in Russia and the United States. “However, influenza is a predictable infection – for example, each year we approximately know the strain of influenza that will circulate, and we have methods of influencing these strains – vaccination. ” He also recalled that there are specific drugs for the flu that are not yet available for coronavirus: “There are only those that are supposed to act.” Recall that yesterday the Ministry of Health issued temporary clinical recommendations, where it recommended three drugs for the treatment of coronavirus. One of them is an antiviral agent used to treat hepatitis C, the second is used to treat HIV, the third is for multiple sclerosis.
Mr. Timakov noted that the coronavirus is “more aggressive than the flu,” and so far it can be predicted a mortality rate of about 4%, “but fewer people are infected with the coronavirus now than the flu, but there is an active increase in the sick”: “The question is how the virus will behave further, if we say that his mortality will be higher, although it is not comparable with the thousands of flu deaths in the world, it should be alarming. The virus is less contact (infectious. – “B”) than the annual flu, but more dangerous than the flu, and we cannot do prevention from it. ” The expert noted that coronavirus is transmitted only through close contact. He also recalled that among patients with a coronavirus, there are almost no children. Yevgeny Timakov described the situation around the coronavirus as “a panic-wound panic,” but he sees the grounds for “well-founded concern.”
Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases RNIMU them. In conversation with Kommersant, N.I. Pirogova, Vladimir Nikiforov, also noted that there is a vaccine against influenza: “If you are vaccinated, then you are not afraid of the flu, and if you are not vaccinated, this is a different conversation. Therefore, flu cannot be compared with the new coronavirus. ” At the same time, he noted that in the United States the statistics on influenza are conducted differently than in Russia: “In our country, influenza is recognized only if there is laboratory confirmation, and this is not possible in all the vast expanses of our homeland. Instead of flu, without confirmation, even a competent doctor is forced to diagnose SARS. Therefore, we get much less flu than we actually have. ” He also noted that Russia and the United States have “incomparable statistics”: “Americans believe that if the patient is diagnosed with the flu, which was then complicated by pneumonia, and the patient died from it after a while, then in any case the main diagnosis will be flu. And in our country, if the flu is not confirmed, then it will be SARS, and if the patient was sick with the flu, and he was brought to the hospital with pneumonia, then he will fall into statistics in the section of community-acquired pneumonia. ” According to Mr. Nikiforov, mortality from community-acquired pneumonia in Russia is about 4%. He added that in Moscow from July 24, 2019 to January 26, 2020, 1,158 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza were registered, and cases of influenza and SARS for the same period were more than 1.6 million, there were no deaths from influenza. In his opinion, about half of the cases of acute respiratory viral infections that are referred to the hospital may well be flu cases.