Political News

Fact check: Trump falsely tweets that Covid-19 is less lethal than the flu

Posted October 6, 2020 12:30 p.m. EDT

— President Donald Trump has consistently downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in public, and it seems testing positive for the virus himself has not changed his tune.

The morning after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he was being treated for Covid-19, Trump claimed that the coronavirus is far less lethal than the seasonal flu.

"Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!" Trump tweeted Tuesday.

Facts First: This is false. While the grammar of the tweet is slightly confusing, it's not true that Covid-19 is "far less lethal" than the flu in the United States. It's also not true that anywhere close to 100,000 people die of the flu every year in the US.

This is not the first time Trump has inaccurately compared the dangers of the flu to Covid-19 in public. Earlier this year, Trump suggested the two were comparable, even though data suggests that Covid-19 is as much as 10 to 20 times more lethal, as CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported in March. In addition, there is clear evidence that Trump knows this. In tapes of conversations with Trump released by journalist Bob Woodward, Trump privately acknowledged in February that the coronavirus is deadlier than the flu.

The statistics that Trump cites on flu deaths are also inaccurate. More people in the US have already died from coronavirus than died from influenza during the past five flu seasons combined, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Compared to the more than 210,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus so far, preliminary reports have 24,000 -- 62,000 flu deaths last season from October 2019 to early April 2020, and 207,000 dead from the 2014-2015 through 2018-2019 flu seasons.

The coronavirus is also killing Americans at a higher rate than the flu. As of Tuesday morning, Johns Hopkins University data put the US coronavirus case fatality rate at 2.8%. The mortality rate for seasonal flu is "about 0.1%, 0.2% at the most," according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, other experts and CDC data since 2010.

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