Throwing Figures Around

So this happened, someone who’s chafing under the totalitarian yoke of having to wear a mask, not spread COVID-19 far and wide, and keep their fellow humans safe, mentioned that “COVID-19 – it’s just a flu” and I think she personally won’t be our cleaner any more.

I’ll call her Karen, for no reason. . .

Anyhow – it got me thinking about comparing flu and COVID-19 statistics.

Firstly, it seems our flu outbreaks came two years apart, so I collected the worst few past years’ worth of data:


2015 big flu outbreak, 90 of 36,200 deaths from respiratory were attributed to influenza

1,801 influenza virus subtypes existed that year. Infection levels per 100,000 was *just* below pandemic levels.

2017 biggest in years 1,100 deaths from approx 221,800 reporting cases

2019 one of the biggest for flu infections, 310,000 reporting cases all year, 900 deaths.

2020 thanks to masks, hygiene, and social distancing, only 17 people have died of flu this year and the number is expected to stay low by year’s end. 


2020 55,000 cases to date, 904 deaths. ALMOST SIX TIMES the death rate of the worst influenza outbreak in Australia to date. 

You can see the uptick in flu cases reported, although a part of that could also be more conscientious reporting practices and the flu vaccination program raising awareness of flu so patients reported it where in the past they may not have reported it.

Most satisfyingly, look – look – at the infection numbers and death rate from influenza when masks, hygiene, and social distancing began to be used – at least down to half of 2015, and less than 10% of the figures for 2019.

If we presume that the precautions regime has a similar effect on SARS-CoV-2 ad it does on the flu strains we can sort o predict that we would have had 9,000 deaths in that 55,000 cases, i.e. one person in five that caught COVID-19 would have died from it.

Even allowing for better outcomes because of better treatment of cases, one in twenty is still terrible odds as far as I’m concerned, so I’m glad we do have access to masks and sanitiser and the right to a certain amount of space around us.

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