An emergency room doctor and researcher said the novel coronavirus is a “frightening echo” of a flu pandemic from over 100 years ago.
Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told “America’s Newsroom” Friday that a study he co-authored and was published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, explains how COVID-19 “could be” even worse than the flu pandemic of 1918.
“COVID-19 and 1918 H1N1, the Spanish flu, kind of belong in the same conversation,” Faust, who is also an instructor at Harvard Medical School, explained. “And the next six months are going to tell us just how close they really are.”
The emergency room doctor said he believes the research will help show people “why we’re going to such great lengths” to stop the spread of the virus.
“It’s hard to do these things like wear a mask and not see your family and not do the things we love,” he said, “but if I think we understand just how unusual this moment is, it kind of makes some of those sacrifices just a little bit more easy to stomach for the time being.”
Looking back on the response, Faust said at first people thought it would just stay in China, then it came to New York and other places.
“It’s very human, to say, ‘Oh, that’s not here, that’s not my problem,’ but what we show in this research is that when it happens quickly and you don’t respond in time, we don’t know enough, really amazingly bad things can happen,” he said.
Faust, who trained in New York, recalled that many of his New York colleagues were overwhelmed in the spring by COVID-19.
“New York City had a 70% percent the death rate, just per capita, as 102 years ago,” he said. “I think people don’t realize that, and it’s an even bigger baseline jumps because we live in a healthier world today.”