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As of early May 2020, approximately 65 000 people in the US had died of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19),1 the disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This number appears to be similar to the estimated number of seasonal influenza deaths reported annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm).
This apparent equivalence of deaths from COVID-19 and seasonal influenza does not match frontline clinical conditions, especially in some hot zones of the pandemic where ventilators have been in short supply and many hospitals have been stretched beyond their limits. The demand on hospital resources during the COVID-19 crisis has not occurred before in the US, even during the worst of influenza seasons. Yet public officials continue to draw comparisons between seasonal influenza and SARS-CoV-2 mortality, often in an attempt to minimize the effects of the unfolding pandemic.
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Faust JS, del Rio C. Assessment of Deaths From COVID-19 and From Seasonal Influenza. JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(8):1045–1046. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.2306
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