I was somewhat taken aback at the decision to publish a letter to the editor (“Learn About It”) which cites, among others, the website WND, a site know for spreading false information. The author did cite correctly one statement by Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who surmised that coronavirus may turn out to be “like a bad flu.” However, let’s look at the facts.

The editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine she cites was published February 28, very early in the pandemic. At that time there were 26 cases in the US. (https://coronavirus.app/map). As of 4/1 there are 931,596 cases in the US. He states the infectivity of coronavirus (R0) scale is 2.2 (meaning each person with coronavirus spreads it to over two other people). Seasonal flu R0 is less than one.

The other big difference between seasonal flu and coronavirus is there is no immunization against it (yet), as there is with flu. As to a projected mortality rate of less than 1%, I think that is unlikely. Already the mortality rate in the US is at 2%, Italy 12%, Spain 9%, China 4%. Only Germany is much lower but still above 1%. This led Dr. Fauci to change his opinion and suggest that the pandemic may cause up to 200,000 deaths in the U.S., twice the number of worldwide deaths due to flu. (March 30)

This is a dangerous disease. More infective than flu, a higher mortality rate, and no vaccination expected for months to a year. There are many ways to protect yourself and your family, detailed on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the spread

of misinformation, Siskiyou County earns a “F” grade for social distancing (https://www.unacast.com/covid19/social-distancing-scoreboard?fbclid=IwAR24YBTuVOtLYNQorUbkWVda1usYwoUvWf-hWWj8V7jxERL-caCg-q6cqx0). Please be careful out there and look for real facts in places like CDC.gov. In other words, “Learn About It.”

Ken Brummel-Smith, MD

Mount Shasta