(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the , a Times health reporter, about the coronavirus. This week, we’re revisiting his comments from a recent episode of “The Daily.”
Last week, President Trump tried to calm public fears by likening the coronavirus to the flu. But that comparison may not be a happy one.
“I spend a lot of time thinking about whether I’m being too alarmist or whether I’m being not alarmist enough,” Donald, a veteran reporter for The Times, told “The Daily” podcast. “And this is alarmist, but I think right now it’s justified. This one reminds me of what I have read about the 1918 Spanish influenza.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one-third of the world’s population became infected in 1918 and 1919, causing at least 50 million deaths. Early indicators are that the coronavirus mortality rate is similar to that of the 1918 flu — roughly 2 percent.
“The annual flu, in a bad year, has a death rate of around 0.1 percent,” Donald said. “So we’re talking about 20 times as bad.”
“You know, I take some comfort in the fact that 80 percent of the people have a mild disease,” he added, “and that might be me and everybody I love, too. We might all get lucky. But not everybody we know is going to get lucky if this turns into something like 1918.”
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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