COVID-19 has had a greater impact on hospitals and people’s health in the last year than flu has during the last five seasons, research has found.
Both conditions are extremely contagious respiratory viral diseases which can lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory failure in severe cases.
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Although there has been a lot of research on COVID-19, not much work has been carried out comparing it to influenza.
Dr Michael Donnino, Critical Care and Emergency Medicine physician at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), said: “COVID-19 has been compared to influenza both by health care professionals and the lay public, but there’s really limited detailed objective data available for comparing and contrasting the impact of these two diseases on patients and hospitals.
“We compared patients admitted to BIDMC with COVID-19 in spring 2020 to patients admitted to BIDMC with influenza during the last five flu seasons. We found that COVID-19 causes more severe disease and is more lethal than influenza.”
The study involved sa total of 1,634 people who were admitted to hospital. Among them, 582 tested positive with COVID-19 and 1,052 had the flu.
Looking at the figures, the research team discovered that on average 210 people were admitted to BIDMC during each eight-month flu season, compared to the 582 patients with COVID-19 admitted in March and April 2020.
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In addition, thy found that 30% of those people with COVID1- required ventilation, just 8% of those with flu required medical ventilation across the entire five seasons of flu.
Dr Donnino said: “Our data illustrates that 98% of deaths of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 were directly or indirectly related to their COVID-19 illness, illustrating that patients did not die with COVID but rather from COVID pneumonia or a complication.”
The findings have been published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.