IN MY LAST ARTICLE, I compared the number of symptomatic cases of influenza in the first 49 days of the 2019/2020 season to the number of symptomatic and estimated cases of COVID-19. While the number of current cases of COVID-19 – those presenting clinically and diagnosed based on symptoms – may be similar, the increase in estimated number of mild cases – including subclinical asymptomatic cases vastly outstrips what people have been referring to as “the number of flu cases”.
Readers have correctly pointed out that I’m comparing apples and oranges – because the number of flu cases is also not fully known. Many people w/influenza ALSO do not go to the doctor, and thus would be “mild” or asymptomatic.
My response is “100% correct” and that proves my point. Individuals comparing “flu cases” to COVID-19 to flu don’t know the asymptomatic rate for influenza. It is very difficult to estimate a case fatality rate during an outbreak – and it may vary from country to country depending on, obviously, the medical facilities’ ability to save lives during the critical phase of a disease, which for COVID-19 involves, I believe, an autoimmune attack leading to unresolvable pneumonia (symptomatic) but massive tissue damage to the lungs (lung immunopathology).
So let’s get into that. There’s a lot at stake in understanding the rate of spread of COVID-19 compared to influenza – as well as the case fatality rate.
The WHO publishes data on influenza cases in the US
I can literally hear the vaccine risk aware person pulling their hair out. “There are NOT 22,000 deaths from influenza every year!” Extremely valid point, we’ll get back to that in a minute. It’s key.
Here death rate confirmed cases” is
#deaths in symptomatic cases / total symptomatic cases x 100
Here “death rate per est. cases” is
#deaths in estimated cases / total estimated cases x 100
WHO provided total estimated cases for influenza
IPAK provided total estimated cases for COVID using the correction factor
#symptomatic cases / (1-0.86)
Because China provided an estimate of the number of undetected cases.
The ratio of estimated CFR – COVID CFR / Influenza is 2.9
Apples to apples.
Yes, we can debate the accuracy of 0.86, whether it applies to the US.
In fact, we can debate every number in the table.
WHO’s numbers of influenza cases and deaths come from the CDC.
The fact that they actually represent “flu-syndrome” cases is failure of public health administration – a failure of EPIC… no, COSMIC proportions.
No one can estimate a solid death rate between COVID-19 and Influenza.
So now, when it really does matter, we are – all of us- left with impressions of data, not data; death rate estimates that flip-flop.
I’d suggest we focus on the rates – in symptomatic cases – of hospitalization and the rates of critical cases.
Read more at JLW's blog here: Another View on Influenza vs. COVID-19 Death Rates