Given how far the Wuhan coronavirus has spread already, it is reasonable to conclude that it might continue, especially in poor countries with inadequate healthcare. But it’s also equally valid to conclude that China will get the outbreak under control and the virus will stop dead in its tracks inside wealthy countries. Or, the virus could become seasonal, like influenza.
The truth is that we just don’t know. What we do know is this: Globally, influenza infects hundreds of millions of people each year and kills 300,000 to 500,000, giving a case-fatality rate of about 0.1%. Even though the Wuhan coronavirus is currently thought to have a case-fatality rate of 2% (which would make it 20 times deadlier), it’s unlikely that it will rack up a similar annual death toll because – at least for the time being – it is not going to infect hundreds of millions of people.
If the media want to be responsible, therefore, they will put the coronavirus in the context of other deadly diseases – then remind people to get a flu shot.
But that’s not what we got. Instead, we got xenophobia and blatant racism.