In a recent study published in gamma The journal’s researchers compared death rates associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with those of seasonal influenza during the fall-winter 2022-2023 season.

Stady: Risk of death in hospitalized patients from novel coronavirus versus seasonal influenza in fall-winter 2022-2023. Image credit: CROCOTHERY/Shutterstock.com


During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, death rates associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection were thought to be five times higher than for seasonal influenza infection.

However, the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines and various treatments, including antiviral drugs and monoclonal antibodies, has significantly reduced the number of deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Moreover, clinical care facilities and immunity against SARS-CoV-2 have also improved at the population level, which has reduced the number of deaths due to COVID-19.

These changes can also affect mortality rates associated with the seasonal influenza virus.

about studying

The researchers used the US Department of Veterans Affairs electronic health databases to enroll study participants.

Participants had at least one hospital admission history between October 2020 and January 2023, two days prior and ten days after a positive test for influenza or SARS-CoV-2 along with a diagnosis of influenza or COVID-19 on admission. Individuals with both infections were excluded.

Participants were followed for 30 days after hospital admission, until first death, or until March 2, 2023. Absolute standardized differences were used to analyze the baseline characteristics of all participants.

Inverse probability-weighted Cox survival models were used to compare mortality risk between patients hospitalized with influenza and COVID-19.

Propensity scores were calculated while calculating covariates. Absolute risk was also calculated as the difference in mortality rates at 30 days between COVID-10 and influenza as a percentage of excess mortality.

In addition, risk analyzes were performed for subgroups based on age, COVID-19 vaccination status, severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and outpatient treatment with antivirals against COVID-19 before hospitalization.


The results indicated that the death rate associated with COVID-19 among the veteran population during the 2022-2023 fall-winter season continued to be higher than the rate of seasonal influenza infection.

During the study period, there were 8,996 hospitalizations due to COVID-19, including 538 deaths, while there were 76 deaths among 2,403 patients hospitalized for seasonal influenza.

At 30 days, the mortality rates for SARS-CoV-2 infection and seasonal influenza were 5.97% and 3.75%, respectively, with an increased mortality rate of 2.23%.

Subgroup analysis revealed that the COVID-19 vaccine was associated with lower mortality, but other factors in the subgroup analysis, such as age and outpatient antiviral treatment, did not affect mortality rates.

Although death rates associated with COVID-19 remain higher than death rates for seasonal influenza, it should be noted that death rates from severe SARS-CoV-2 infection requiring hospitalization have decreased significantly since 2020 (when rates were Mortality ranges between 17% and 21%). Mortality rates from seasonal influenza have remained relatively flat since 2020 (3.8% vs. 3.7% in 2023).

Researchers believe that the decrease in the death rate for COVID-19 may be due to multiple factors. These include the emergence of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 with lower virulence, increased immunity from multiple vaccine doses and SARS-CoV-2 infection, and a significant improvement in clinical care.

The difference in mortality rates between unvaccinated individuals and vaccinated or booster individuals highlights the importance of COVID-19 vaccines in reducing the severity and mortality associated with COVID-19.

A limitation of the study is that the study population consisted predominantly of older male war veterans, making it difficult to generalize the results to the larger population.


Overall, the results indicated that COVID-19 death rates have decreased significantly since the onset of the pandemic. However, deaths are still higher than those from seasonal influenza.

However, both primary and booster vaccines have significantly reduced COVID-19 death rates, highlighting the protective effects of vaccines.

written by

doctor. Chinta Siddharthan

Chinta Siddharthan is a writer based in Bangalore, India. Her academic background is in evolutionary biology and genetics, and she has extensive experience in scientific research, teaching, science writing, and herpetology. Shinta holds a Ph.D. He has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the Indian Institute of Science and is passionate about science education, writing, animals, wildlife and conservation. For her PhD research, she explored the origins and diversification of blind vipers in India, doing extensive fieldwork in the jungles of southern India as part of that. She has been awarded the Canadian Governor General’s Bronze Medal and the University of Bangalore’s Gold Medal for academic excellence and her research has been published in high impact journals.


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