Coronavirus has swept across the planet in rapid fashion, with more than one million confirmed cases in little over three months. The virus which causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is extremely infectious, but there is little difference between the death rate of the novel coronavirus and how infectious it is compared to seasonal flu, which can kill up to 61,000 people a year according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, there is one major difference between COVID-19 and seasonal influenza, according to leading experts.
That is that we have no prior exposure to the coronavirus, meaning our body has no immunity to it.
When flu pops up every year, most of us are immune to the illness or our bodies have battled it before.
This is essentially herd immunity, an idea which was floated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson when COVID-19 first made its way to British shores.
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Herd immunity is the practice of allowing up to 60 percent of the population, mainly the younger population, to catch the disease and let it play out.
After this, the body could theoretically become immune to the virus, meaning that it has no where else to travel to, eventually petering out.
However, with such little background on COVID-19, there is no evidence to suggest one cannot become re-infected with the virus.
Herd immunity with flu makes the virus much less of a worry as there is a natural exit strategy from the outbreak.
But with COVID-19, experts are still unsure how the current will play out.
Abigail Carlson, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St. Louis, told Business Insider: “When the flu virus infects [people who have already had flu], it reaches a dead end.
“They don’t get sick, they don’t pass it on. And they stop the virus in its tracks.”
However, with no previous exposure in humanity to COVID-19, everyone is vulnerable.
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Ms Carlson continued: “There’s very little to no herd immunity
“Even though the virus might not be extremely deadly, there’s a larger number of people who can get infected.”
Around the world, total confirmed coronavirus cases have now surpassed one million – impacting 198 countries.
The number of dead from the disease has also exceeded 53,000 as the US becomes the most infected country in the world.
More than 245,000 people have now confirmed to be infected in the States, more than double the second highest on the list, Italy, which has 115,000 confirmed cases.
The US has also seen a surge of cases, with the death toll exceeding 6,000 from April 3.
In the UK, where there are now more than 33,000 confirmed cases, resulting in more than 2,900 deaths, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a lockdown of at least three weeks in a bid to contain the virus.
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