posted by gut
In some states half the deaths are nursing homes. Most of the rest of the deaths the average age is around 80 with multiple comorbities. For the rest of the population, the risk is indeed on par with the flu.
I think the worst you could say is this is like the flu with no vaccine (which often is only about 50% effective, but still helps if you get infected).
The nursing home thing, which seems to be getting an uptick in coverage in the last few days, really doesn't surprise me. The age is probably a factor, of course, as there is a correlation between age and the likelihood of a compromised immune system. Just as well, though, you're likely forced into contact with health workers who, best efforts or not, are interacting with a number of people over the course of the day.
In effect, I think the nursing home example actually demonstrates why a person having a healthy immune system and no comorbidities is only half the matter, as not everyone you would likely interact with over the normal course of a day has an equally healthy immune system without any comorbidities. Sort of a 'Typhoid Mary' element to the whole thing.
Also, if we use age and other conditions with regard to this virus, we'd have to do the same with the flu to make an adequate parallel. The mortality rate for the flu is already small, without taking those elements into account. For an apples-to-apples comparison between the two, if you give weight to the effect of age and additional health factors in the case of COVID-19, you'd have to do the same with the flu.
Per April's metrics, in NYC (to use as a microcosm, since it's obviously the biggest US hotspot at present), about 50% of the ones who died from it were over 75, so of course, that will obviously account for the average age being weighted that way. But if we take the number of recovered cases against the total number of finalized cases, and we completely remove that age range entirely, it's still significantly more dangerous than the flu. Again, even if you're healthy and young, the possibility for a Typhoid Mary situation would cause problems in the normal course of events.
I'm not suggesting, of course, that the ratio we have now will be the final one, of course. The time it takes to get over the illness is probably longer than is useful for an illness for which we were fairly late out of the gate with testing.
Still, this past flu season had, per the CDC, a mortality rate between about 0.04% and 0.16% (24K to 62K deaths against 39M to 56M cases). Those are finalized numbers, given the short lifespan of the flu virus (per my doctor in January, a normal flu virus lasts about ten to fourteen days). The current finalized numbers of COVID-19 in the US are just over 94,000 deaths against about 397,000 finalizes cases (recovered + died). That rate is, at present, 23.7%.
I'm not arguing that it will stay there. I'm merely saying that even if we don't factor in any age or health-related elements to the flu (like we are with COVID-19), using the current number of total cases, we'd need the mortality rate of finalized cases to drop from 23.7% to between absolute zero (since we've already had too many deaths compared to total cases to put it on the low end of the flu mortality rate spectrum) and 0.12% from here on out to match flu numbers.
Nearly every single relevant voice seems to suggest that it will drop, even significantly, but I'm skeptical we'll see the remaining cases end with a mortality rate that is about 0.5% of what it's been thus far seems naively optimistic. Obviously, I hope that's not true, but I have yet to see someone explain how that's likely.