Since December 2019, there are now 771,870 reported cases of coronavirus around the world. Of this number, at least 37,015 people died from the deadly disease. The question everyone is asking is, how do fatality rates from COVID-19 compare to those of the seasonal flu? Unfortunately, the coronavirus death rate in the U.S. is far higher than that of the flu. The death rate also varies by age — here’s how the 2 compare across age ranges.

As of March 9, 2020, there are approximately 113,579 flu cases reported worldwide, with at least 607 cases reported in the U.S. Every year, between 291,000 to 646,000 people died from flu worldwide, with 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.

The case fatality rate of the seasonal flu in the US is around 0.1% to 0.2%, while the case fatality rate for COVID-19, measured in the cited study, was 2.3%. The US data is sourced from the US CDC.

Credit: Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

These two figures reflect whether we look at the percentage of deaths out of the number of symptomatic illnesses (giving us 0.1%), or the number of medical visits (giving us 0.2%). In the traditional calculation of CFR, we would tend to focus on the number of symptomatic illnesses. This is analogous to the number of confirmed cases, on which the COVID-19 figures are based. However, the US CDC derives these figures based on disease outbreak modelling which attempts to account for underreporting – you can read more about how it derives its annual flu figures here.



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