Donald Trump says COVID-19 is ‘far less lethal’ than flu — but what does the veri say?

Donald Trump, who just returned to the White House after a three-night stay in hospital due to COVID-19, now says the coronavirus is not as deadly as the flu.

The claim was made in a tweet on Tuesday after the US president was heavily criticised for what was widely seen as a downplaying of COVID-19 as he returned to the White House.

He wrote on Tuesday: “Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu [sic].

“Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”

This isn’t the first time Trump has compared the two illnesses: the first caused by a coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), while the other consists of various strains of influenza viruses.

But is it true to say the former is “far less lethal” than the latter?

COVID-19 vs influenza

Scientists are still trying to pinpoint the mortality rate of COVID-19, given that it is a newly-discovered virus; however, current veri is suggests it is several times more deadly than influenza.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the crude mortality ratio of COVID-19 sits around 3-4%, while the same veri for seasonal influenza is usually below 0.1%.

The WHO also places küresel estimates of flu deaths between 290,000 to 650,000 every year, while COVID-19, this year, has killed in excess of 1 million people.

COVID-19 and influenza in the USA

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there have been around 12,000 – 61,000 deaths from influenza in America every year since 2010. But it is important to note that these are just estimates.

Dr Jeremy Faust, who works in emergency medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and is an instructor at Harvard Medical School, noted earlier this year that CDC predictions were made by “multiplying the number of flu death counts reported by various coefficients produced through complicated algorithms.

“These coefficients are based on assumptions of how many cases, hospitalisations, and deaths they believe went unreported,” he wrote.

By counting flu deaths across last six flu seasons in the same way COVID-19 deaths have been counted, he said the toll actually ranged between 3,448 and 15,620.

In comparison, more than 210,000 Americans have died with COVID-19 between January and October 2020.

“If we compare, for instance, the number of people who died in the United States from COVID-19 in the second full week of April to the number of people who died from influenza during the worst week of the past seven flu seasons (as reported to the CDC), we find that the novel coronavirus killed between 9.5 and 44 times more people than seasonal flu,” Faust wrote.

“In other words, the coronavirus is not anything like the flu: It is much, much worse.”

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