clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Norway reveals why COVID-19 and the flu are really different

Recent headlines suggest Norway said COVID-19 and the flu are the same. That’s not the case

Naomi Bosch gets tested for COVID-19 in Utah.
Naomi Bosch gets tested for COVID-19 outside of the Mount Olympus Senior Center in Millcreek on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

There are a number of social media claims circulating that suggest Norway has reclassified COVID-19 as the same disease as the flu. But this does not appear to be the case.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH/FHI) told Newsweek that the claims are untrue.

In fact, the institute said the rumor stemmed from an interview Geir Bukholm, assistant director of the NIPH, had with Norwegian media outlet VG.

  • “We are now in a new phase where we must look at the coronavirus as one of several respiratory diseases with seasonal variation,” Bukholm said, according to VG report.
  • The VG report suggested that “the coronavirus thus joins the ranks of other respiratory diseases such as colds and seasonal flu.”

But the organization told Newsweek that COVID-19 is a different disease and not the same as the flu

  • “It is not correct that the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has claimed that ‘COVID-19 is no more dangerous than ordinary flu.’ This statement is probably a misinterpretation of this interview in (VG),” an institute representative told Newsweek.
  • “Our position, as stated in the news article, is that at this point in the pandemic we must start approaching COVID-19 as one of several respiratory diseases circulating with seasonal variation.
  • “This means that the control measures that will be applicable for various respiratory diseases will require the same level of societal preparedness. This does not mean that illness from coronavirus and the seasonal flu are similar.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been chatter that COVID-19 and the flu are similar viruses. In fact, former President Donald Trump said “we have learned to live” with the coronavirus, saying it is “far less lethal” than the flu in “most populations.”

  • But that is not the case. In one year, the flu often leads to somewhere between 290,000 to 650,000 deaths amid 1 billion cases per year. The coronavirus has killed 4 million people amid 233 million cases in 18 months, showing the virus spreads faster and kills more people, per Johns Hopkins University data.