FALSE: COVID-19 not deadlier than flu

At a glance:
  • Claim: COVID-19 is not deadlier than the flu.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Although information about COVID-19 is still evolving, both the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) say that COVID-19 patients are more likely to die than those with the flu.
  • Why we fact-checked this: As of writing, the video had over 16,600 views on Facebook.
Complete details:

Facebook page Lynn Channel posted a video on November 21 that claimed COVID-19 is not deadlier than the flu virus. 

At the 14:39 mark of the video, it said: “Wow! You can just imagine mga ka-curious – 2,000 troops. Ang i-a-ano sa Liverpool. Ang i-dedeploy, 2,000. Ano 'yan war? Para sa isang virus na it’s not deadlier than trangkaso? Magdedeploy ka ng 2,000? My goodness! Parang war. This is a psychological war. Para takutin tayo. 'Yun po 'yung point nila.”

(Wow! You can just imagine – 2,000 troops will be deployed in Liverpool. What is that, a war? For a virus that’s not deadlier than the flu, you will deploy 2,000? My goodness! It’s like war. This is a psychological war to scare us. That’s their point.)

This is false. Although information about COVID-19 is still evolving, existing studies and figures show that COVID-19 is deadlier than the seasonal flu.

As of Wednesday, November 25, over 1.4 million COVID-19 deaths were reported globally. In contrast, the WHO estimates that about 290,000 to 650,000 people die of flu-related causes every year worldwide.

WHO estimated COVID-19’s mortality rate, or the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections, at 3% to 4% in March. This is higher than the mortality rate of seasonal influenza, which is “usually well below 0.1%.”

A more recent study by the US CDC published in its mortality weekly report in October 2020 also said there is a fivefold difference between the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients and of flu patients in the United States. This study only looked at hospitalized patients. The study also said that those who are infected with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized than those who have the flu.

In a briefer last updated on November 24, the Johns Hopkins Medicine also said that while the COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, existing studies show it is deadlier than the flu. “Doctors and scientists are working to estimate the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be substantially higher (possibly 10 times or more) than that of most strains of the flu,” it said.

In the US, physicians reacted negatively to the tweet of outgoing US President Donald Trump last month saying that COVID-19 is “far less lethal” than the flu, according to a report by NBC News. Twitter also flagged it for misinformation.

As of writing, the Facebook video had over 16,600 views, 552 reactions, 193 shares, and 110 comments. It was spotted via CrowdTangle, a social media monitoring tool.

This is not the first time that Rappler debunked a claim by Lynn Channel. A video uploaded on October 23 falsely claimed that 70% of COVID-19-related deaths in the United States are from nursing homes. – with reports from JD Moncada, Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

This article was written by a volunteer of Rappler's fact-checking mentorship program, a 5-week exclusive and hands-on training on detecting, investigating, and verifying online misinformation and disinformation.

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