By Robert Preidt
FRIDAY December 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) – COVID-19 is much more harmful and deadly than seasonal flu, new studies confirm.
Researchers analyzed US Department of Veterans Affairs data on more than 3,600 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 between February 1 and June 17 of this year, and more than 12,600 influenza between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019. The average age of patients in both groups was 69 years.
The death rate for patients with COVID-19 was 18.5%, while it was 5.3% for those with the flu. People with COVID were nearly five times more likely to die than patients with the flu, according to the study published online Dec. 15 in the BMJ.
The study also found that patients with COVID-19 were four times more likely to require breathing apparatus, almost 2.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care and to stay in hospital on average three days longer than flu patients.
A separate study from France, published online December 17 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine newspaper, came to similar conclusions: nearly twice as many people were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic than for influenza at the height of the 2018/2019 influenza season. And the death rate was almost three times higher.
The French team, led by Dr Pascale Tubert-Bitter, research director at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), and Catherine Quantin, of Dijon University Hospital and Inserm, compared COVID data – 19 patients admitted to hospital over a two-month period in the spring of 2020 with influenza patients admitted over a three-month period during the 2018/2019 seasonal flu epidemic.
“The finding that the death rate from COVID-19 was three times higher than for seasonal flu is particularly striking when we recall that the 2018/2019 flu season was the worst in the last five years in France in terms of number of deaths, ”Quantin noted in a Lancet press release.
Tubert-Bitter added: “Taken together, our results clearly indicate that COVID-19 is much more serious than seasonal flu. At a time when no treatment has been shown to be effective in preventing serious illness in patients with COVID-19, this study highlights the importance of all physical prevention measures and highlights the importance of vaccines. “
U.S. researchers said a big surprise in their study was that COVID-19 patients had a higher risk of developing diabetes, with 9 per 100 more cases than patients with the flu.
“These patients did not have diabetes before they contracted COVID-19,” said lead study author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St Louis. “Then their blood sugar went up and they needed huge doses of insulin. Is diabetes reversible or will it require long-term management? Will it be type 1 or Type 2 diabetes? We just don’t know because COVID-19 barely existed a year ago. “
Another finding was that COVID-19 patients had a higher risk of kidney damage and serious sepsis shock. For the two complications, there were on average 6more cases per 100 COVID-19 patients than among influenza patients.
Additionally, patients with COVID-19 were more likely to need medication to treat severely low blood pressure, a condition that can lead to organ damage and death. The rate was 11.5 more cases per 100 patients than among influenza patients.
“There have been many high-level public comparisons between COVID-19 and influenza; however, these comparisons have mainly been made using disparate data and statistical methods that have given rise to much conjecture. Our research represents an apple-to-apple comparison between the two diseases, ”Al-Aly said in an academic press release.
“A better understanding of the health risks of COVID-19 makes it possible to anticipate the demand for health care services and to project mortality with greater precision,” he added.
“We know so little about COVID-19 because of how new it is,” Al-Aly noted. “I don’t know why black patients suffer and die more. My hunch is that the cause is related to racial disparities in healthcare, but there might be other factors that we don’t yet know about.”
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19[female[feminine.
SOURCES: University of Washington at St. Louis, press release, December 15, 2020; The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, press release, December 17, 2020