Is the Coronavirus More Dangerous Than the Flu?

We’re so used to pushing through flu season that we often forget that influenza is actually quite dangerous. Every year, about 56,000 people die from it (this is a rough estimate as it’s notoriously difficult to track specifically flu-related deaths). With numbers like that, it’s important to acknowledge that most other diseases that emerge are not quite so deadly. So, where does the coronavirus stand as far as comparisons with the flu?

1. The coronavirus doesn’t seem to affect kids much.
First and foremost, the flu is more serious when it infects children and those over 65. Weak immune systems are to blame for much of the severity, though even those who are healthy can be hit hard. So far, the coronavirus doesn’t seem to infect children as much as the flu does. Kids who have been infected experience very mild symptoms, whereas the cases that are more serious tend to happen to those over 40.

2. When comparing death toll, the coronavirus has not been as deadly or serious.
While we don’t yet have yearly figures for the coronavirus (and to be honest we really don’t want to get to that point), so far the death toll is at 2,770 worldwide, most of which occurred in China. The flu, on the other hand, hovers at over 300,000 deaths worldwide based on yearly averages.

3. We know less about the coronavirus.
When discussing how dangerous a disease is, one aspect you have to take into consideration is how much we know about it. It stands to reason that a lesser known disease will be more dangerous simply because we can’t anticipate the damage it might cause. The coronavirus is being seen in humans for the first time, and we don’t even know which animal it originated in just yet. So, in this context, the coronavirus is more dangerous than the flu because we haven’t been able to study it to the extent we’ve studied influenza. Until we do, those unknowns are going to keep coronavirus at the top of the list of concerns.
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