Important differences between SARS, MERS, 2019-nCoV, and Influenza (the Flu)

Important differences between SARS, MERS, 2019-nCoV, and Influenza (the Flu)

Pop Quiz

1) Which of the following has claimed more lives in the USA in 2020 alone?

A) SARS

B) MERS

C) the Flu

D) 2019-nCoV

2) Which of the following has claimed more lives in the world over the past 20 years?

A) SARS

B) MERS

C) the Flu

D) 2019-nCoV

3) Which of the following has claimed more lives in China over the past year?

A) SARS

B) MERS

C) the Flu

D) 2019-nCoV

The answer may be surprising. The answer to all three questions is … C – the Flu.

    Here are the facts:

  • The Flu claims more than 80,000 lives in China yearly.
  • The Flu claims more than 15,000 lives in the USA yearly. In a bad year, it has claimed up to 60,000 lives.
  • The WHO (World Health Organization) states that yearly, there are more than 5 million severe cases of the Flu worldwide which claim around 500,000 people per year! Total cases of the Flu (including the non-severe type) are estimated to be over 50 million worldwide.
  • The Flu has a mortality rate of around 2% globally, and slightly less than 1% in the USA. While most people don’t generally consider the Flu to be a “deadly” virus, statistics prove otherwise. Many people do in fact die each year from this virus, making it one of the biggest killers in the viral world.
  • SARS, MERS, the Flu, and 2019-nCoV are very similar with all except the Flu being a type of coronavirus. Here are some differences and information about SARS, MERS, and the current Novel Coronavirus.

SARS

The acronym stands for “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome”. An outbreak began in 2002 in Asia and lasted for nearly 2 years before it was brought under control. From November 2002 to July 2003, there were 8,098 cases worldwide and 774 deaths. It still exists but no new cases have been reported since 2004. The mortality rate for SARS at its peak was around 10%. Its symptoms are similar to the Flu and it works in a similar way since it’s also a coronavirus which attacks the upper respiratory system.

MERS

The acronym stands for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome”. An outbreak began in 2015 in South Korea and lasted for around 6 months before it was brought under control. The virus affected 186 people in South Korea, killing 36 of them, after one person brought the virus from the Middle East, where the virus originated. It still exists and still causes infections yearly; however, at much lower levels than during the outbreak. Saudi Arabia reported 15 new cases in 2016. The mortality rate for MERS at its peak was a very alarming 34%. Its symptoms are similar to the Flu and it works in a similar way since it’s also a coronavirus which attacks the upper respiratory system.

2019-nCoV

An outbreak is currently underway, and we are at the very beginning of it in January, 2020. While we still don’t understand everything about the virus, the mortality rate is around 3%, making it slightly more deadly than the average Flu outbreak, but much less than SARS or MERS.

By Eric M. Meyer
Senior Editor