COVID-19 causes more severe disease than flu

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In a new study, researchers found that nearly twice as many people were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic than were for influenza at the peak of the 2018/2019 flu season (COVID-19, 89,530 patients vs influenza, 45,819 patients).

The research was conducted by a team from the University Hospital of Dijon in France.

The study is based on data from the French national administrative database.

The team compared data from COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital over a two-month period in spring 2020 with influenza patients admitted over a three-month period during the seasonal flu outbreak of 2018/2019.

Researchers found that the death rate among COVID-19 patients was almost three times higher.

In addition, a greater proportion of COVID-19 patients experienced a severe illness requiring intensive care than those with influenza.

The researchers note that the difference in hospitalization rate may be partly due to existing immunity to influenza in the population, either as a result of previous infection or vaccination.

In contrast, COVID-19 is a new virus where very few people would be expected to have any previous immunity.

Nevertheless, they say their findings reinforce the importance of measures to prevent the spread of both diseases and are particularly relevant as several countries prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic to overlap with outbreaks of seasonal influenza.

This study is the largest to date to compare the two diseases and confirms that COVID-19 is far more serious than the flu.

The finding that the COVID-19 death rate was three times higher than for seasonal influenza is particularly striking when reminded that the 2018/2019 flu season had been the worst in the past five years in France in terms of the number of deaths.

One author of the study is Professor Catherine Quantin.

The study is published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

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