Questions

First and foremost: Please read this article and understand what is happening, and about to happen again. This virus is not a joke, and let's get one thing straight: it's definitely NOT a flu. It is not even very bad flu:

  • it is a completely different type of virus (the coronavirus dubbed SARS-CoV-2, while influenza is caused by an influenzavirus)
  • it has a much longer incubation time, during which evidence is starting to accumulate that it can very well be transmissible
  • it may be more easily transmissible than even some of the very bad flus
  • mortality rates are higher than regular seasonal flus and if they are allowed to spike, they may dwarf death figures from all causes (graphs from The New Atlantis)
  • the mortality profile is quite different from seasonal flu, with the sick and elderly being disproportionately at risk, and some similarities only arise with the hugely lethal "Spanish" flu pandemic
  • many people (roughly 15% to 30%) require hospitalization, putting strain on resources that risks driving up COVID-19 and all-cause mortality during critical shortages
  • about 5% to 10% develop a very serious viral pneumonia, while people developing pneumonia from influenza usually develop a more treatable bacterial pneumonia
  • there is currently no vaccine, cure or any treatment aside from assisting people severely ill with breathing and other needs
  • we have no immune defenses against it currently, while we have varying degree of immune response to influenza, depending on the strain we're seeing

But it does tend to present with fever, joint aches and a dry cough. Right, those are similar symptoms to flu. They are also symptoms of a myriad other diseases too, so there is no reason in particular to compare it with flu. Bottom line: it has nothing to do with the flu except for having some similar symptoms just like most other viral diseases.

Do I have it?

Short answer: we don't know.

A very important thing about this disease is having tests, because this disease cannot be diagnosed clinically, meaning that even a doctor won't be able to tell you whether or not you have it just based on looking at you and checking out your symptoms.

This is because COVID-19 can be considered a flu-like illness: this doesn't mean it has actually anything to do with flu (see the relevant section!), but merely that it causes symptoms that are extremely generic and common to many illnesses, such as fever and cough.

So if you have some symptoms, unfortunately, it needs to be clear that you cannot determine wether or not it's COVID-19 on your own, or even with others' help, or even with a doctor's help, without a test. On the other hand, there are signs and symptoms that indicate you should probably call a doctor (don't go to one, call them first!) on the suspicion you may have COVID-19, or simply because they are concerning enough.

You can read and follow this self-triage tool to determine whether your symptoms warrant consulting medical services.

ProPublica requests information sharing from people who have been affected by the virus (as patients, caregivers or health workers). If you are or have been a patient, please feel free to write there.

Why is WHO information confusing?

The WHO is more of a political body than a scientific information body. They will say what their member states and their committees think will make people behave in desired ways, not necessarily state the exact scientific truth, or that we don't know it yet. This can explain why they seemed to be against wearing masks while there was a shortage of them for healthcare workers.

When the WHO says "there is no evidence" for something, that's exactly what they are saying: "there is no [sufficient] evidence for it", not "it isn't true"; often their information seems to imply something isn't true when there merely hasn't been extremely solid evidence accumulated yet to corroborate it.

Note that the WHO will generally be unable to make statements that their more prominent member states do not want them to make, even if those statements would be scientifically valid, which has been admitted by WHO representatives themselves.

Basics

Trackers

Asia

Europe

North America

Info

Tracing

Public deployments

Science

Therapeutics and vaccines

Epidemiology

Country Sereprevalence Highest-hit area In health workers Asymptomatics Seroconversion Source
England 6% London (13%) 11.7% 32% 96.2% Imperial
Italy 2.5% Lombardy (7.5%) 5.6% 27.3% N/A Ministry of Health
Spain 5% Madrid (>10%) 10.2% 32.7% 91.8% Lancet

Follow-up

Models

Masks

There is mixed advice on the use of masks by the general public, and the advice from political authorities appears to be changing in various parts of the world depending on the availability of masks and the state of the pandemic. Here are some scientific articles or papers trying to determine the usefulness of masks, and behaviors such as re-use of masks.

Syndrome in children

Prior research

News

API and feeds

Italy

(For history and diffs of this document, see its GitHub page)