• Shruti GOCHHWAL

5 Viruses More Dangerous Than Covid-19

The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 is awful news. It has already infected 5,128,492 people and killed 333,489 globally (as of this writing).

Different sources estimate the mortality rate for COVID-19 at roughly 2% to 4%. However, this is variable as the virus rages on.

Certainly, the world has been through other epidemics that were much worse. For example, the 1918 Spanish Flu infected approximately 500 million people and killed more than 50 million globally.

However, weighing the impact of one virus against another is nor exactly fair game. Several variables are involved, such as the mode of transmission, virus infectivity, host defence mechanisms, and even weather.

Nevertheless, it’s informative to put the present outbreak into a sort of perspective.

Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are a huge family of enclosed RNA viruses that mostly infect mammals and birds.

In humans, they can induce mild infection in the upper respiratory tract, such as slight cough, but also more serious lower respiratory tract infections that can manifest as pneumonia, bronchitis, or some severe respiratory illness.

Let’s take a look at 5 other viruses that in their ways, are more dangerous than Covid-19.

1.  MERS

Covid-19 isn’t the only coronavirus. MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was caused by a rare but deadly coronavirus first found in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Since then, MERS has infected 2,502 people and caused 861 deaths worldwide, according to the  WHO.

As we know, that’s just a fraction of the cases reported for Covid-19. However, the difference is in the mortality rate. MERS had an estimated mortality rate of 37.2% compared with that of 2% to 4% for COVID-19.

Similar to Covid-19, MERS-CoV () infection showed symptoms of cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Unlike Covid-19, MERS coronavirus infection usually stems from camels.

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available for MERS coronavirus.

2.  Hepatitis

According to a WHO report, viral hepatitis lead to an annual 1.34 million deaths globally in 2015. Although casualties due to other infectious diseases have reduced, casualties due to viral hepatitis have only increased, by approximately 22% since 2000.

While five types of viral hepatitis exist, such as hepatitis A, D, and E, hepatitis B and C are responsible for 96% of all hepatitis linked deaths. Most of these deaths are caused by primary liver cancer and chronic liver disease.

distribution of hepatitis-b

Caption: Global distribution of Hepatitis B. Credits: Commons wikimedia


An estimate of 4.4% of the world’s population or 325 million people have viral hepatitis. Also, 1.75 million new cases of hepatitis C alone occur every year.

Despite effective antivirals for hepatitis C and a vaccine for hepatitis B, only some people with viral hepatitis get diagnosed due to limited access to affordable hepatitis testing.

According to the WHO, only 20% with hepatitis C and 9% of people with hepatitis B have received a diagnosis. Therefore, treatment reaches only a few of those infected.

1.  Ebola

Currently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is fighting the world’s second-biggest Ebola outbreak on record.

According to the WHO, 3,462 have been infected and 2,262 people have died since the epidemic was first declared in August 2018.

Ebola is rare, however, it has a high mortality rate of nearly 50% (this rate has ranged from 25% to 90% in previous outbreaks).

The 2014 to 2016 outbreak in West Africa was the biggest Ebola epidemic to occur, 11,308 died and 28,610 people were infected.

No proven treatment has been able to combat the virus, however several immunological, blood, and drug therapies are in development.

Few vaccines have been identified to help control the spread of the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea.

1.  HIV/AIDS

According to the WHO, at the end of 2018, nearly 37.9 million people globally were diagnosed with HIV. In 2018, 1.7 million people were newly infected and 770,000 people died from HIV-related causes.

According to the WHO, since the virus was first identified, nearly 32 million people have died globally as a result of HIV.

HIV has become a manageable chronic health disease. For example, 54% of children and 62% of adults living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral therapy, the primary treatment for HIV.

However, in the US, of the estimated 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, nearly 1 in 7 or 14% of them don’t know it and need to be diagnosed. At the same time, more than 38,000 new HIV cases occur in the US every year.

1.  Influenza

Although Covid-19 has inflected a great deal of damage and concern, there’s a more deadly and widespread virus going around, namely, influenza or the flu.

Commons wikimedia

H1N1 influenza virus.              Credits: Commons wikimedia


According to a new estimate, influenza globally causes nearly 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness and nearly 290,000 to 650,000 casualties every year.

Based on a recent report from CDC, in the United States, a minimum of 22 million people were victims of the flu in the 2019-2020 season and about 12,000 died from it.

Although there’s no vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 like there is for influenza, Covid-19 has warranted extensive containment procedures and a high level of caution.

Which virus truly is a threat? The one we tend not to be afraid of and the one we are all familiar with is truly a threat.

The fallout of each epidemic largely depends on circumstances such as how fatal and contagious it is, how hygienic people are when we catch it, and when a vaccine or cure becomes available.

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