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The coronavirus is much worse than the flu. Here’s why

If the coronavirus was only as deadly as the flu, fewer than 5,000 Americans would have died. Instead, more than 200,000 have died from COVID-19.

FILE - In this July 21 2020, file photo, funeral home workers in protective suits carry the coffin of a woman who died from COVID-19 into a hearse in Katlehong, near Johannesburg, South Africa.
Themba Hadebe, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The coronavirus is worse than the flu. Much worse, statistics show.

Tuesday morning, following three days of treatment and observation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after testing positive for COVID-19, President Donald Trump said “we have learned to live” with the coronavirus and that it is “far less lethal” than the flu in “most populations.”

Twitter later said the tweet violated its rules against “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19,” but kept the tweet available saying it “may be in the public’s interest.”

Facebook removed the post from its platform, The Washington Post reported.

It isn’t clear where the president got his information. But here’s what leading health organizations say about the coronavirus’ lethality compared to the flu.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 billion people a year become infected with the flu, with around 0.5% (3 to 5 million cases) becoming severe. Of those, somewhere between 290,000 to 650,000 annual will die, meaning about 0.065% of those infected by the flu won’t survive the virus

Globally, COVID-19 has claimed more than 1 million lives this year, so far. The global mortality rate of the coronavirus is around 3%

In the United States, more than 210,400 have died from coronavirus out of the nearly 7.5 million who tested positive, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The U.S. mortality rate is just over 2.8%.

Hypothetically, and using the WHO’s mortality rate for the flu, those 7.5 million positive COVID-19 tests would have lead to 4,875 deaths. That is less than 2.5% of the deaths actually caused by the coronavirus in the U.S.

What this data doesn’t show are the long-term effects of the new virus, which is being studied as scientists begin learn more about COVID-19. Early evidence shows that the virus is leading to lasting heart and lung damage.