New findings: Covid-19 likely three times as deadly as influenza

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French researchers have studied deaths associated with the coronavirus. Their study makes it clear: Covid-19 is much more serious than influenza.

Covid-19 disease is nearly three times as deadly as influenza: that’s what French researchers found in a study published Friday in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. They looked at deaths in hospitals from 2018 to 2020.

Covid-19 is more serious than influenza
In the study, scientists from the national research institution Inserm evaluated data from more than 135,000 French patients. Of them, 89,530 were hospitalized this March and April with Covid-19, a lung disease caused by the coronavirus. Of those patients, more than 15,000, or 16.9 percent, died. The researchers contrasted that with flu deaths: more than 2,600 out of a total of 45,800 people who fell ill in the winter of 2018/2019, a rate of 5.8 percent.

“Our study is the most comprehensive to date comparing the two diseases,” said co-author Catherine Quantin of Dijon University Hospital. “It confirms that covid-19 is more serious than influenza.” This is also shown by the comparison with the 2018/2019 flu winter, which was “the worst in terms of deaths in the past five years in France,” Quantin pointed out.

Covid-19 patients also required more frequent treatment in intensive care units: The rate was 16.3 percent for them, compared with only 10.8 percent for flu patients. In addition, Covid-19 patients received intensive care for longer on average.

Covid-19 less likely to affect children and adolescents
The flu also hit children or adolescents significantly more often, with nearly 20 percent of patients having a better chance of recovery. In contrast, only 1.4 percent of Covid-19 patients in the hospital belonged to this age group.

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