COVID-19 causes a more serious infection and is more fatal than the flu

In a paper published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, physician researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) evaluated the rational impact of COVID-19 on hospitalized patients with the viral infection in March and April 2020, versus patients who were hospitalized with the virus. flu in the last five flu seasons at the medical center. Overall, the team showed that COVID-19 cases led to many more weekly hospitalizations, greater use of mechanical ventilation and higher mortality rates than influenza.

COVID-19 and influenza are both infectious respiratory viral infections that can lead to pneumonia and severe respiratory failure in severe cases. However, there is a lack of a detailed comparison of the epidemiology and clinical features of COVID-19 and influenza characteristics.

COVID-19 has been compared to influenza both by health care professionals and by the non-clerical public, but little detailed target data are available to compare and differentiate the effects of both of these diseases affect patients and hospitals. We compared patients admitted to BIDMC with COVID-19 in spring 2020 with patients admitted to BIDMC with influenza in the last five flu seasons. We have found that COVID-19 causes a more serious infection and is more deadly than the flu. “

Michael Donnino, MD, Corresponding Author, Critical Care and Emergency Medicine Physician, BIDMC

Donnino and his colleagues included 1,634 patients in the hospital in their study, 582 of whom had been diagnosed with COVID-19 laboratory and 1,052 of whom had been diagnosed with influenza. The team found that, on average, 210 patients were admitted to BIDMC in each eight-month flu season, compared to the 582 patients with COVID-19 admitted in March and April 2020 While 174 patients with COVID-19 (or 30 percent) received mechanical ventilation in the two-month period, only 84 flu patients (or 8 percent) were ventilated over the five seasons. of the flu. Similarly, the proportion of patients who died was significantly higher for COVID-19 than for influenza; Twenty percent of patients admitted with COVID-19 died in the two-month period, compared with three percent of patients with influenza over five quarters.

Further analysis showed that hospitalized patients with COVID-19 tended to be younger than those hospitalized with influenza. Among patients who required mechanical ventilation, patients with COVID-19 had significantly longer ventilation – a median duration of two weeks – compared with just over three days for patients with influenza. Moreover, among patients requiring mechanical ventilation, patients with COVID-19 were significantly more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions.

“Our data show that 98 percent of hospitalized patient deaths with COVID-19 were directly or indirectly related to their COVID-19 disease, indicating that patients did not die. with COVID but rather from COVID flu or a problem, “Donnino said.

The authors note that the strict social distance guidelines implemented last spring may have influenced these decisions by limiting frequency. and COVID-19 mortality near the end of April 2020. On the other hand, some treatment practices have evolved over the course of the pandemic. improving outcomes for patients with COVID-19.


Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Magazine Reference:

Donnino, MW, et al. (2021) Comparison of hospitalized patients with influenza and COVID-19 at Tertiary Care Center. Journal of General Internal Medicine.