COVID vs the Flu

Seasonal influenza has been with us more or less forever, and in the U.S., tens of thousands of people die from it every year. That has never been considered a major problem, and we have not shut down our economy or our schools, or stayed in our basements or worn masks, to minimize damage from the flu. Covid, on the other hand, has been treated as an epic “pandemic” second only to the Black Death, and extreme, unprecedented measures have been taken to try to slow (not stop) its spread, despite the lack of any clear evidence supporting such efforts.

So how much worse is covid than an ordinary flu bug, which it resembles closely? UPI reports on one comparison: “COVID-19 death risk 3.5 times that of the flu, study says.” UPI seems to think that data point validates covid hysteria; my reaction is: Is that all?

The risk of death from COVID-19 is more than triple that from seasonal flu, researchers in Canada say.

Their findings are similar to recent studies from the United States and France.

What, exactly, is the comparison?

“Patients admitted to hospital in Ontario with COVID-19 had a 3.5 times greater risk of death, 1.5 times greater use of the ICU, and 1.5 times longer hospital stays than patients admitted with influenza,” he said in a journal news release.

Those are interesting numbers. Covid patients are only 1.5 times as likely to be in ICU as regular flu patients? That seems unimpressive. (One obvious question is how likely patients are to be hospitalized in the first place.) As for the death rate, we don’t know the age distributions of the flu and covid patients. Those dying of covid (or with covid, in many cases) are overwhelmingly old. In my state, the median age is 83, well in excess of life expectancy. Not only that, the old people who die from (or with) covid almost always had pre-existing co-morbidities. Were the hospital patients who died from the flu as old and sick as those who died from covid? An important question which this article, at least, does not answer.

Still, taking UPI’s headline at face value, if covid-19 is really only 3.5 times as lethal as an average flu bug, the damage we have done to our small businesses, to our mental and physical health, and above all to the lives of our young people is a travesty.