Risk of death from COVID-19 is 3.5 times higher than influenza, CMAJ study finds

Original author: The Canadian Press

Published: March 1, 2021

Source: https://www.thestar.com/

A study published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found the risk of death from COVID-19 was 3.5 times higher than from influenza.

The numbers put a figure on the severity of the novel coronavirus, which experts have been speaking to since the pandemic began.

The study analyzed hospitalized cases of COVID and influenza between November 2019 and June 2020 in seven Toronto-area hospitals, finding that people admitted with COVID-19 were 1.5 times more likely to need intensive care, and stayed in hospitals 1.5 times longer than patients admitted with influenza.

The study used data extracted from hospital computer systems to describe details of patients’ hospitalizations, says Dr. Amol Verma of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto.

That data included things like demographics, vital signs, laboratory test results, use of hospital resources like ventilators, and outcomes of their hospital stay — whether they died in hospital, needed intensive care, or were re-admitted.

The findings from the Canadian study were similar to results recently reported in France and the United States, the CMAJ says.

“We can now say definitively that COVID-19 is much more severe than seasonal influenza,” Verma said in a release.

The study described hospitalizations in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont. — areas with large populations and high levels of COVID-19 — and included all patients admitted to medical services or the intensive care units (ICU) for influenza or COVID-19.

There were 1,027 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in 972 patients — some re-admissions were included in the study —compared to 783 hospitalizations for influenza in 763 patients.