Fact vs. Fiction: Local immunologist explains why the flu is not like COVID-19

COVID-19 vs. the Flu

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Tuesday morning tweet by the president has left many medical experts concerned.

President Donald Trump said to his 87 million Twitter followers that “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.”

He also called COVID-19 “far less lethal” in most populations.

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Twitter hid the post, and Facebook deleted it, warning that it spreads misinformation and is potentially harmful.

Action News Jax took the claim to immunologist and foundation president of the Duval County Medical Society, Dr. Sunil Joshi.

“Well, first of all, it’s not accurate. The flu hasn’t killed 100,000 people in years,” said Joshi. “The highest death toll we’ve had from the flu was about three years ago, where we lost about 60,000 to 70,000 folks, which is a lot of folks. But it hasn’t killed 100,000 people in many, many years.”

These are yearly figures that are tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Joshi.

Compare that to the COVID-19 pandemic — which in about seven months, has claimed the lives of more than 210,000 people in the U.S. alone, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As for why we don’t “close down” the country for the flu, Joshi has a simple answer for that.

“Because we’ve had a vaccine for this for over 50 years that hundreds of millions of people have gotten,” said Joshi. “That helps to protect the general population. And also, people who have had natural infection have some antibodies against this as well, so you don’t spread the flu as dramatically as you spread these new viruses.”