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Coronavirus mortality compared to seasonal flu by age group



  • The flu and the new coronavirus have similar symptoms, but the latter are far more deadly.
  • This is how the mortality rates of the two diseases compare between different age groups in the USA.
  • The corona virus is five to ten times more deadly than the flu in people between the ages of 0 and 45. It is 12 1/2 times more deadly than the flu in people over 85 years of age.
  • You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.

Research from disease control and prevention centers shows how much more deadly the coronavirus is than seasonal flu in the United States.

Many people have compared the flu to COVID-1

9, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as both can affect the respiratory system and their symptoms overlap. Even President Donald Trump recently said about the corona virus: “You can call it a germ, a flu, a virus; you can call it many things.”

The main difference between the flu and the corona virus, however, is that the latter is far more deadly.

While about 0.1% of people who get flu die, the global coronavirus mortality rate is around 4.7% based on the current number of cases and deaths. However, the coronavirus mortality rate is constantly fluctuating and varies widely from country to country – in Italy it was over 11% on Monday and 1.8% in the United States.

Both the flu and coronavirus mortality rates vary widely between age groups – the two seem to be the most lethal in people over 65 years of age.

Flu vs. Covid 19 US mortality rate by age chart


Shayanne Gal / Business Insider


The above comparison shows that the coronavirus is more lethal than the flu in all age groups, but is particularly fatal in the elderly. This corresponds to data from almost all countries with a high number of coronavirus cases. The virus also affects serious people with pre-existing health problems.

Outbreaks of older people in the US have been particularly tragic. Because the coronavirus spreads over droplets when people are in close contact and is deadliest for people over 80, nursing homes can be dangerous breeding grounds. According to Democracy Now, 37 of the 120 people living there died in an outbreak at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington.

Many states, including Washington, Mississippi and New York, have excluded visitors from nursing and retirement homes.

The flu infects millions of people every year and kills thousands

During the 2018-19 flu season, approximately 35 million people contracted the flu in the U.S. and, according to the CDC, approximately 34,000 died. The agency estimates the total number of flu infections in the United States through its influenza monitoring system, which collects flu data from government and local partners and projects nationwide totals using infectious disease models.

In the 2018/19 season, about one in 1,000 flu patients died.

However, the breakdown of the numbers by age group shows a more complex story. Children died in 10,000 cases. In adults between 50 and 64 years, about six out of 10,000 people who contracted the flu died. For people aged 65 and over, the rate rose to about 83 out of 10,000.

The mortality rate of the flu varies depending on the strains circulating annually. The flu virus also mutates rapidly, so people can be infected with different strains, which is why the vaccine is not 100% effective and new vaccines are developed every year.

About 10% of US coronavirus patients over the age of 85 have died

In the United States, the coronavirus has infected more than 153,000 people since the first case was reported on January 22. However, this number is likely to greatly underestimate the true size of patients, as it only represents those who have been tested, and the US has been slow to expand testing capacity. People with symptoms that are mild enough to recover at home without medical treatment are not included in the official totals.

Even in New York, which has performed the most per capita tests and has the highest number of cases and death rate in the United States, few people are tested with non-critical cases.

“If you are not hospitalized and a diagnosis affects your care, you will not be tested,” said the New York City Department of Health.

The coronavirus mortality rate changes as more cases are confirmed. Many health experts believe that if milder and more asymptomatic cases were tested, the rate could drop.

Prevention of the spread of the flu and coronavirus

The flu and coronavirus spread in the same way: through virus particles that move between people in tiny droplets of saliva or mucus. If a sick person sneezes, coughs, or eats within 3 to 5 feet of a healthy person, the particles can land on the healthy person. If the particles get into the person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, the person can become infected.

An average coronavirus patient infects two to 2 1/2 others. That makes COVID-19 more contagious than seasonal flu.

That is why so many countries restrict the movement of residents to promote social distancing. Three quarters of the US population are said to be staying at home.


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