How does Coronavirus death rate compare with Avian flu, Swine flu, and Influenza A and B?

How does Coronavirus death rate compare with Avian flu, Swine flu, and Influenza A and B?


In the past, and even today, zoonotic influenza viruses have affected millions of people across the globe. These viruses include avian, swine, and influenza A and B, among others. The most recent one is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) identified in China at the end of December 2019. Zoonotic influenza viruses are those whose transmission can happen between animals and people. While the new COVID-19 has grabbed the headlines throughout the world, it is easy to forget that there are many other viral epidemics hitting nations and have killed many people. But how does Coronavirus death rate compare with Avian flu, Swine flu, and Influenza A and B?

So far, COVID-19 has caused over 88,000 illnesses and 3,000 deaths, primarily in the originating country, China. But that number is small compared with the flu or influenza. According to the CDC, influenza has caused between 9 and 45 million illnesses annually since 2010. That has resulted in 61,000 deaths, with between 140,000 and 810,000 people admitted in US hospitals alone.

Since virologists have researched seasonal flu for many years, people know more about flu viruses, their dangers, and what to expect whenever they occur. But COVID-19 is new, and scientists know little about it. Because of its unpredictable factor, nobody knows how far coronavirus will spread and the number of deaths it will cause.

Coronavirus death rate compared with Avian, Swine, and Influenza A and B.

During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, about 11-21% of the world population contracted the illness. The estimated range of deaths worldwide was between 151,700 and 575,400 people, which caused a case fatality rate of 0.03%. The avian influenza occurrence in humans happens unpredictably. According to the WHO, it is hard to transmit the inflection from one person to another. But if people get infected, the case mortality rate can go to as high as 60%.

Generally, scientists measure the grimness of any illness by its death-to-case or case-fatality ratio. In percentages, 0.05% of people who have had the flu in the 2019-2020 season in the USA have died from it. Globally, the WHO estimates that annual flu epidemics result in 3-5 million cases of extreme illness, with between 290,000 and 650,000 respiratory deaths. As of January 31, 2020, figures around the new COVID-19 outbreak show that 2.2% of people confirmed to have contracted the virus have died from it.

Signs, Symptoms, and Transmission

A human can acquire zoonotic influenza viruses via direct contact with polluted environments or infected animals. But the power of these viruses to sustain their infection among humans is limited. Once infected, a person may acquire various diseases ranging from advanced sputum production, mild upper respiratory infection, and quick profession to sepsis with shock and pneumonia. Acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is one of the many coronavirus symptoms, can also occur and ultimately lead to death. Other flu symptoms may include conjunctivitis, encephalopathy, and encephalitis.

Basic precautionary measures against COVID-19

Coronavirus has affected thousands of people in China and is affecting many worldwide. The infected tend to feel ill before recovery or untimely death. You can protect yourself and others around you by taking some precautionary measures that include:

  • Wash your hands routinely with soap and water to get rid of any viruses that may have come into contact with your hands.
  • Keep a social distance between yourself and anybody who is sneezing or coughing to avoid breathing in the tiny droplets released from their mouth or nose.
  • Try as much as possible to avoid touching your face, including mouth, nose, and eyes. That will prevent you from transferring the virus to your body if you have contaminated hands.
  • Practice proper hygiene by covering your nose and mouth whenever you are sneezing or coughing to avoid a possible spread of the virus.
  • Go for a medical check-up immediately you have breathing difficulties, a cough, or a fever.
  • Follow the guidelines set by health authorities on how to remain safe and protect yourself and others from Coronavirus.


The symptoms of coronavirus vs flu are similar. While COVID-19 has made the headlines throughout the world since December 2019, the influenza pandemic is much more serious because it affects millions of people across the globe every year. Coronavirus is still new, with over 88,000 cases reported and a case fatality rate of 2.2%. You can protect yourself and others by following basic precautionary steps as outlined by your local health authorities.


I am Dr. Marion Johnson, a Nurse Supervisor, Educator, and A clinician with a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree (DNP) and a Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN) both from Walden University. I have worked as a nurse in the healthcare industry for over 15 years. Presently, I am doing something I love most, which is being an online instructor. In this position, I believe I can learn, educate, create and implement positive input into the nursing field. Besides work, I am also an avid reader of nursing journals and articles that is why I have a passion for reading, learning and sharing on the trending topics in the nursing arena.

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