Covid-19 Patients Five Times More Likely to Die of Health Complications Compared to those with Flu


Covid-19 Patients: Hospitalization with Covid-19 is associated with a higher need for longer hospital stays, ventilators, and admission into the intensive care units (ICUs). There is a higher risk of death among people with coronavirus disease than people suffering from the flu.

According to a study by the Washington University School of Medicine in the US and published in The BMJ, while both Covid-19 and flu attack the lungs, the coronavirus can damage the lungs and other organs. Their infection is linked with a higher risk of conditions like acute kidney and liver damage, heart disorders, stroke, severe septic shock, low blood pressure, excessive blood clotting, and new-onset diabetes. Senior study author Ziyad Al-Aly, an assistant professor at Washington University, said: 

“Many high-profile, public comparisons between Covid-19 and the flu have been made; however, those comparisons mostly were drawn using disparate data and statistical methods that have resulted in a lot of conjecture. Our research represents an apples-to-apples comparison between the two diseases.”

Covid-19 Patients Nearly Five Times More

The researchers analyzed a database of de-identified medical records kept by the United States’ Department of Veteran Affairs, the country’s largest integrated health-care delivery system. They interrogated information involving 3,641 patients hospitalized in the US with Covid-19 from February 1 through June 17, 2020. They also looked at 12,676 patients hospitalized with the flu from January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2019. The researchers said the average age of patients with either Covid-19 or the flu was 69. Among patients hospitalized for either Covid-19 or the flu, those infected with the novel coronavirus were nearly five times more likely to die than those with influenza.

The scientists observed that of the 12,676 patients with flu, 674 (5.3 percent) died, and of 3,641 patients with Covid-19, 676 (18.5 percent) died. On average, the Covid-19 patients were four times more likely to require breathing machines and almost 2.5 times more likely to be treated in the ICU, according to the researchers. Covid-19 patients were also more likely to be hospitalized for longer, an average of three extra days. The findings showed a higher risk of developing diabetes among Covid-19 patients than flu patients, nine more cases per 100 people. Al-Aly added: 

“These patients didn’t have diabetes until they got Covid-19 […] then their blood sugar spiked, and they needed huge doses of insulin. Is the diabetes reversible, or will it require long-term management? Will it be Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes? We just don’t know because Covid-19 barely existed a year ago.” 

Long-Term Clinical Complications

There is currently a surge in Covid-19 infections worldwide, with the disease now causing over 3,000 deaths daily in the United States. The disease that began its global rampage has gone on to infect about 69.5 million people and kill about 1.6 million as of early this month. Al-Aly concludes: 

“It’s quite possible that a year or five years from now there could be Covid-19 complications that we haven’t considered. Already, we’re aware of the long-haulers, or people who get Covid-19 but never fully recover […] even for people who are fortunate to survive the acute Covid-19 illness, they may be forever scarred by the lasting impact of its long-term clinical complications. The more we understand, the better we can benchmark health-care resources and treat patients.”