DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As health officials across the country work to track the spread of coronavirus, doctors at Duke believe stopping the virus is only part of their medical mission.

“These are unprecedented times,” said Dr. Sallie Permar. “We haven’t seen an outbreak like this maybe since the 1918 flu pandemic.”

According to researchers at Duke, the first step in fighting coronavirus is simply getting informed.

“The disinformation that’s out there leads people to make what turn out to be poor and potentially fatal decisions,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick.

“The median age of case fatalities are in the 80’s,” said Dr. Permar.

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One question nearly everyone seems to be asking is if coronavirus is more dangerous than the flu.

“There are going to be more cases of flu than COVID-19 in our area,” said Dr. Permar. “We’re going to see a time where these two epidemics are overlapping.”

While there is a vaccine for the flu, Dr. Permar says she beleives we are a year or more away from a reliable coronavirus vaccine.

“We know that a certain portion of adults will come down with disease, and that has the potential of overwhelming our health systems,” said Dr. Permar.

Some medical professionals are already questioning if COVID-19 could simply disappear, like SARS.

“COVID-19 is much more contagious,” said Dr. Quick.

“We can hope that the onset of warmer months will curb the infections, but we don’t know that for sure,” said Dr. Permar.

In the meantime, they’re asking people who believe they are infected to make a tough decision.

“It’s very inconvenient to have to stay home for two weeks,” said Dr. Quick. “Some people may like it, but it’s inconvenient. Again, it saves lives.”