COVID-19 Index
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics

Why COVID-19 is 25 to 50 Times Worse than the Flu: The Numbers

Many people, even medical professionals are confused about why COVID-19 is so much more important than flu. Even the top experts on TV do not explain it well. It can be explained with just a few numbers.

Flu normally kills about one in a thousand people who are infected and about one in five catch it in an average year. So one in five thousand die. America normally loses 60 to 70 thousand people in a typical year. If the world was the same there would be around one and a half million deaths.

We don't know how many people would be infected by COVID-19 if we just let it take its normal course and we do not know how many will die. In the early days of the pandemic, back in April we might have guessed two percent of the infected would die. Now, that we have a number of techniques for treating COVID-19 the death rate might be half what it was. Let us assume a 1 percent death rate for those who are infected.

Furthermore, lets assume that half the world's population will have to be infected to reach herd immunity. That is lower than most estimates, but will get up somewhere in the ball park of reality. This is one in two hundred dead. For America that would be more than a million and a half dead, for the world about 40 million.

But if we do not fight COVID-19 and fight it fairly hard the peak period of infection will overwhelm our medical system and might double the death rate. In that case we could see more than three million dead Americans in the space of a few weeks, and for the world about 80 million dead.


This is one and a half times what the world lost in World War 2, and given population growth about the same portion of the world's population. Though of course COVID-19 concentrates its fury on the old, not young men.

Note though compaired to the regular flu the death could easily be a fifty times greater. It will be as if we were hit with a five decades of flu in a few weeks.

But in one area it will be far worse than that. The flu takes old people, often just months before they would have died anyway and those last few months are generally far from pleasant. This is why the flu is called the old man's friend. I know my own father said the first 88 years were great but I could have done without the last one. This is not so true with COVID-19.

If we do not succeed in flattening the curve and the medical system is overwhelmed a lot of people who had years and even decades of pleasent life, and in some cases even productive life will die.

Of course, the flu does have one problem that thankfully COVID-19 does not. The flu does kill infants, the very young, which for the most part COVID-19 does not. My own father lost an infant sybling in the 1919 flu.

So now you know why the extreme measures are being taken for COVID-19 while we treat the flu as part of life.

I currently have more than ten pages on my COVID-19 index page.

My web pages on tips for better AM radio reception were number one on Google for about a decade and are still usually in the top three for the words AM radio reception. So apparently I am pretty good at inventing practical suggestions and organizing other people's suggestions. So perhaps I have something useful to say about COVID-19 also.

If you want to tell me how terribly wrong I am, or other wise contact me, you can do so several was. This is a link to my contact information.

Links on this Site

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My DIY face-shields

COVID-19 safety meme

Drive COVID-19 to extinction

Death rate down by half?

Enjoyin COVID isolation

List of reasons to wear a mask

Viruses become milder with time

Older and Vulnerable workers should stay home. Why & How

Cruise Ships 200 times as Crowded as Cities

Why prisoners should not be freed in COVID-19 pandemic.

Why predators don't eat us

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