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5 Questions for Mr. Science

There’s been a lot of misinformation. So a scientist named Dave Troy posted some frequently asked questions he’s encountered. He’s an expert on the mathematics behind how diseases spread. Here are five questions he’s been answering this week.

1. “Why are people freaking out, isn’t it basically like the flu?” No, because it’s more contagious, and no one has any immunity to it. People who get the flu infect 1.3 other people, on average. The average person who gets corona virus infects about three times that many.

2. “When will life go back to normal?” We don’t know yet. But expect March, April, May, and June to be heavily disrupted.

3. “Won’t it calm down in summer when the temperature goes up?” Some respiratory diseases work that way, but not all of them. And even if it does, it could ramp back up in the fall.

4. “Is it really even that deadly?” It’s true that only about 0.2% of people under 50 die of COVID-19. But it jumps to 1.3% for people in their 50s . . . 3.6% in your 60s . . . 8% in your 70s . . . and almost 15% if you’re over 80. So it’s up to 20 times deadlier than the flu. Those estimates could be high, but they’re the best stats we have so far.

5. “If I’m gonna get it, why not do it now and get it over with?” We need to slow it down so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. If everyone gets sick at once, there aren’t enough doctors and respirators to go around. So slowing it down is really important.

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