It can be very easy to freak out about a new “super-virus” in the news, as evidenced by the Ebola epidemic in 2014, SARS in the early 2000s, or even the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
However, even though I have also experienced some panic, it’s important to get the facts straight for you, the reader, to understand why we don’t need to induce mass hysteria quite yet over the Wuhan Coronavirus.
First, the disease, according to the Guardian, has mostly non-fatal symptoms, such as a dry cough or breathing problems. The disease is only critical when it contributes to the host developing viral pneumonia, which requires hospital treatment.
Second, for younger-aged college students, we don’t have too much to worry about. Our immune systems are generally better than the elderly, the age group where most of the fatalities have occurred, and even those fatalities had compounding medical issues that worked in conjunction with the viral pneumonia.
The US National Library of Medicine itself states “This immune senescence predisposes older adults to a higher risk of acute viral and bacterial infections. Moreover, the mortality rates of these infections are three times higher among elderly patients compared with younger adult patients.”
The fear of the disease mainly comes from its unknown nature, due to it being relatively new, as well as the long period where someone can be a carrier without knowing as the symptoms can take weeks to manifest.
TIME posted a video with Professor Gabriel Leung of the University of Hong Kong, stating that around 44,000 people might be infected and not show symptoms and could spread the disease globally.
The BBC has also posted a video showing that researchers, such as Professor Robin Shattock of the British Department of Infectious Disease, are already searching for a vaccine. Shattock expressed appreciation for the scientists in Wuhan who quickly shared the genetic sequence for the virus so that a vaccine could be developed to combat it.
This is generally heartening, as even though Shattock did acknowledge it can take months for a vaccine to be properly prepared, there are plenty of healthcare professionals in the world actively working to stop the disease from spreading.
For the time being, there is no purpose in panicking over something that could quickly be remedied, so we can rest easy until the disease is confirmed to be fatal and widespread; then we can start panicking.
Ethan is a freshman Secondary Education English major and a contributing writer for The Voice.