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H1N1 and coronavirus present different risks. A lot of people are going to point to the fatality rate of H1N1 and the number of people it killed. But the same reasons why people were concerns about swine flu apply to the coronavirus. Thus, I look at this very differently. H1N1 is worse statistically than coronavirus. But the worst case scenario for coronaviruses are far more grave so you still need to appropriate react to them.
Recall that the H1N1 was called the swine flu because it was a zoonotic disease that jumped from pigs to humans. Anytime a disease jumps the species barrier it’s not a good thing. H1N1 and the 2019 influenza were notable because of the increased fatality rate for young people which is distinct from the typical flu.
As a zoonotic disease, the coronavirus presents similar concerns especially because we know relatively little about the underlying biology of coronaviruses. Their mutation rates and the evolutionary paths that it can take are rather unknown whereas for H1N1, we know precisely what mutations may cause it to become more virulent and we have systems in place to monitor the epidemiology of the disease.
The thing that is particularly scary about the 2019-nCoV is that we know that MERS-CoV was extremely virulent. If you cross MERS with 2019-nCoV you potentially have a fatal and fast spreading coronavirus and that’s really not good. Since we don’t know enough about the biology of these coronaviruses, we’re effectively operating blind and that in of itself is a worrisome.
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