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I'm a Doctor and No, COVID Is Not 'Far Less Lethal' Than the Flu

Coronavirus is actually more than 20 times more lethal than influenza.
Portrait of surgeon medic in front of surgeons perfoming operation on a patient at cardiac surgery clinic

The morning after being released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Maryland, President Donald Trump issued a somewhat confusing PSA for the country about the upcoming cold and flu season. Instead of urging Americans to get the flu shot, he used his tweet to encourage people not to be afraid of COVID-19, as it is "far less lethal" than influenza. (At least that's how it's being interpreted; his grammar is unclear.) However, according to one top infectious disease expert, Trump's statement is factually incorrect. Read on, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

The Statement is "Absolutely Incorrect"

"Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. "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!!!"

Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and an expert in pandemic response, explains that this statement is "reckless and absolutely incorrect."

"The mortality rate for COVID-19 is around 2% overall and much higher for elderly patients and those with comorbid conditions," he explains. "It's around the same mortality rate as the 1918 pandemic that killed 100 million worldwide and 650,000 to 1 million in the US."

The flu, on the other hand, is far less deadly. "Seasonal influenza has only a .1% mortality rate," much lower," he explains. "So, COVID-19  is at least 20 times more deadly."

RELATED: 11 COVID Symptoms No One Talks About But Should

More Than 210,000 Americans Have Died COVID-Related Deaths

In fact, according to preliminary data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, in just over 7 months since the first COVID-19 death was confirmed on February 29, more people have died from coronavirus than flu-related deaths from the past five years combined. The combined death toll of the flu from the last five flu seasons—2019-2020: 22,000 (preliminary), 2018-2019: 34,000 (preliminary), 2017-2018: 61,000 (preliminary), 2016-2017: 38,000, 2015-2016: 23,000—could be as low as 178,000, while over 210,000 have died of COVID in under a year. 

This cold and flu season it is more important than ever to take precautionary measures. Luckily, many of the same things that will help keep those illnesses at bay will also prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here are all of Dr. Anthony Fauci's top tips on avoiding the cold, flu, and coronavirus this winter. 

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