Healthcare/Biosafety

Influenza vs. COVID-19 – Which is More Severe?

24 June, 2020

On June 20, Facebook page “საქართველო უპირველეს ყოვლისა” (Georgia First of All) published a post dedicated, as it claims, to government officials and heads of Georgian National Disease Control Center (NDCC). The page accuses them of damaging Georgian population’s health and slams them for the regulations on wearing face masks. The Facebook page claims that the novel coronavirus is weaker than seasonal influenza and its fatality rate is only 1.37% while the death rate from other viruses is typically 10%. It also claims that the World Health Organization (WHO) has also acknowledged this fact. “საქართველო უპირველეს ყოვლისა” also writes that the world is hit by coronavirus scams, while actually 5G technology and not coronavirus represents a real threat.   

The page addresses PM Giorgi Gakharia, President Salome Zourabichvili, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, Director of NDCC Amiran Gamkrelidze and his deputy, Paata Imnadze. However, the post is also accompanied by the photos of Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, and other politicians, including from the opposition parties.   

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The assertion as if according to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is weaker than seasonal influenza, and not the virus, but rather 5G technology is a real challenge for the human immune system is not true. The COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 5%, while for seasonal influenza, death rate is usually well below 0.1%. As for the threats allegedly posed by 5G technology, it is simply a conspiracy theory circulating from time to time.

  • COVID-19 is much dangerous than seasonal influenza

“საქართველო უპირველეს ყოვლისა” spreads disinformation while saying that the WHO has acknowledged the fact that the novel coronavirus “has been invented” and “created artificially.” In fact, the WHO has made no such statements. Neither did it say that the COVID-19 death rate is 1.37% and it is much weaker than seasonal influenza.  

COVID-19 is a new and still ongoing virus. Thus, the WHO says that the true mortality of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand. World health officials said in March that the death rate for COVID-19 was 3.4% globally. However, according to available data, it is around 5%. As for the seasonal influenza, its case fatality rate is much lower as compared to the novel coronavirus – 0.1%. Thus, any claims as if COVID-19 is less dangerous than seasonal influenza are absolutely groundless. 

The Facebook page also claims that the death rate of other similar viruses is 10%; however, it does not clarify which particular viruses it means. The death rate from the above mentioned influenza is not 10%. The case fatality rate of other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS is 9.5% and 34.4%, respectively. But their scales are much lower than those of COVID-19. While MERS mainly spread in Saudi Arabia and infected only 2, 494 people, the novel coronavirus has spread around the world infecting over 9 million people. 

A narrative as if COVID-19 is less dangerous than other viruses is circulating from time to time. In April, Myth Detector verified a lie spread by Georgia and World, according to which the measles epidemic and H1N1 (swine flu) had much severe consequences than the novel coronavirus. 

  • Declaring the novel coronavirus as a scam and linking it to 5G technology is a conspiracy theory

It is worth noting that 5G technology has been declared safe by the international radiation watchdog. Still, various conspiracy theories are frequently spread, according to which 5G is linked to the novel coronavirus, it has adverse effects on birds and can penetrate into the human body.

See detailed information about the myths related to 5G technology in Myth Detector’s earlier publications:

  • Does 5G Pose a Threat and Is This Technology Linked to COVID-19?
  • Does 5G Cause Harm to Birds? Asaval-Dasavali Spreads Manipulative Quotes

About the source 

“საქართველო უპირველეს ყოვლისა” is a propagandistic and antiliberal Facebook page, which shares the narratives spread by Levan Chachua, leader of Georgian Idea party, and Guram Palavandishvili, organizer of homophobic rallies. The page was also involved in the campaign aimed at discrediting protests rallies against the Parliament’s decision to downvote the constitutional amendment on transition to fully proportional electoral system. The Media Development Foundation has identified such pages in its report released in December 2019.