By the time you've infected 14 people with the flu, you would have infected 59,000 with COVID-19.
The common argument against self-isolation due to the coronavirus is "it's just like the flu" -- but it's not.
An intensive care specialist has broken down the difference in infection rates between the two viruses, and the math is terrifying.
Speaking to the Dispatches program in the UK, Professor Hugh Montgomery, director of the Institute for Human Health and Performance at University College London, explained that COVID-19 is about 2.2 times more contagious than Influenza, which doesn't sound like a lot... until you actually work it out.
"Normal flu, if I get that, I'm going to infect on average 1.3, 1.4 people," he said. "And if those 1.3, 1.4 people gave it on to the next lot, that's the second time it gets passed on."
"By the time that's happened ten times, I've been responsible for about 14 cases of flu."
"This coronavirus is very, very infectious, so every person passes to it three. Now that doesn't sound like much of a difference, but if each of those three pass it to three and that happens in ten layers, I have been responsible for infecting 59,000 people."
“If you are irresponsible enough to think that you don't mind if you get the flu, remember it's not about you - it's about everybody else.”
Intensive care specialist Professor Hugh Montgomery explains why this coronavirus is different from the ordinary flu. pic.twitter.com/h9sQorHQUv
Prof. Montgomery confirmed that most people who catch it will have mild symptoms and be just fine; a smaller percentage will have to be hospitalized, and a smaller percentage again will require intensive care.
"That's where if you're critically ill, your life gets saved or not. And this is the issue," he explained, pointing out that health services have a limited number of doctors, nurses, beds and ventilators.
He said that of the people who contract the virus the worst, a large number of their lives can be saved -- providing the health system is not already overwhelmed.
"Please just remember that the best chance we can give for the people who do fall ill is if we've got enough beds, and enough staff, and enough kit to be able to be there for you," he said.
"If you are irresponsible enough to think that you don't mind if you get the flu, remember it's not about you - it's about everybody else."
And COVID-19 is not just more infectious than the flu -- the mortality rate is much higher too.
Last week Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained that while the seasonal flu has a mortality rate of about 0.1 percent, killing around one in 1,000, the novel coronavirus has a rate of 1 percent -- claiming the lives of one in a hundred.
However latest figures are more jarring still: of the 116,000 resolved cases reported worldwide, around 100,600 have recovered while 15,500 have died -- a mortality rate of 13%, meaning more than one in ten who had the virus died.