COVID-19 three times more deadly than influenza: study


Published: 2020-12-18 09:35

Last Updated: 2021-04-11 03:44

COVID-19 three times more deadly than influenza: study
COVID-19 three times more deadly than influenza: study

According to AFP, a study published Friday revealed that the death rate from COVID-19 exceeds the number of deaths during the peak of the influenza season in 2018 and 2019 by three times.

The research, which was based on French national data and published in ‘The Lancet Respiratory Medicine’ journal, sheds light on the severity of the disease caused by the virus, noting that nearly double the number of people were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic, than with influenza.

Researchers compared the data of 89,530 patients who were hospitalized as a result of their COVID-19 infection in Mar. and Apr. 2020 with the data of 45,819 patients who were admitted into hospitals with influenza between Dec. 2018 and late Feb. 2019.

Among the cases studied, 15,104 (16.9 percent) of COVID-19 patients died in comparison to 2,640 (5.8 percent) deaths among influenza patients. Additionally, more than 16 percent of coronavirus patients experienced severe symptoms and illness, leading to intensive care requirements, compared to those who suffered from influenza and required an intensive care unit, which totaled to 10.8 percent.

The Head of the Medical informatics and Biostatistics Department at Dijon University Hospital in France, Catherine Quantin said that the study “is the largest to date to compare the two diseases and confirms that COVID-19 is far more serious than the flu.”

She described that difference in death rates as, “particularly striking” because the 2018 and 2019 flu season had been “the worst in the past five years in France in terms of the number of deaths.”

The study authors stated that people who suffered from the influenza developed some degree of immunity to influenza as a result of previous infection or vaccination, which could also be a reason why the infection led to fewer hospitalization cases.

However, seeing as COVID-19 is a new coronavirus strain, very few people would be expected to have immunity against it.

-Respiratory support-

The study also stated that COVID-19 patients were twice as likely to require respiratory support (9.7 percent) such as ventilation during hospital treatments, than those suffering from influenza (four percent).

Transfers to intensive care units was at 16.3 percent for coronavirus patients compared to 10.8 percent for influenza patients.

Additionally, the average time spent in intensive care units for COVID-19 patients (15 days) was nearly twice as long than for influenza patients (eight days).

Acute respiratory failure was recorded for over one in four patients with COVID-19, in comparison to less than five percent with those suffering from the flu.

However, the study showed that fewer children under the age of 18 were hospitalised due to COVID-19 (1.4 percent), compared to the flu (19.5 percent).

COVID-19 patients in the age bracket of 11 to 17 years old had a death rate 10 times higher compared to those with the influenza virus.

A Research Director at L’Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Pascale Tubert-Bitter said, “taken together, our findings indicate that COVID-19 is much more serious than the seasonal influenza,” emphasizing that the study should shed light on the seriousness of COVID-19.