Health officials debunk false report, saying COVID is far deadlier than the flu

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 9:24 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 10:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As COVID skeptics use a false news report to fit their narrative, health officials step in to set the record straight saying flu deaths have not surpassed COVID fatalities.

The statistic that is causing issue is 859, which the state Health Department said is how many people in Hawaii have died in the last year from pneumonia and influenza.

The state said only one of those deaths was actually due to influenza — the rest were related to pneumonia and the vast majority were COVID-related.

“In Hawaii and around the world, COVID-19 was far deadlier than the flu during the 2020-2021 flu season. There was one confirmed influenza death in Hawaii between Sept. 27, 2020 and Oct. 2, 2021. This is compared to 608 COVID-19 deaths in the same reporting period,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, state epidemiologist.

Kemble explained that COVID deaths were included in the statistic because the virus can cause pneumonia.

“So now when we look at pneumonia and flu together, we’re also seeing COVID death in the mix because it also causes pneumonia. So that 859 count is inclusive of influenza deaths, COVID deaths, strep, pneumonia deaths, other bacterial pneumonias, and pneumonias that aren’t even related to an infectious agent.”

“It’s disappointing that the misinformation gets out there and some people believe the narrative that flu is more deadly than COVID because the numbers fair out that COVID has been far more deadly than the flu,” said Brooks Baehr, DOH spokesperson.

With COVID precautions in place, officials said this has resulted in very few flu cases during the pandemic.

However, health officials warn that we have likely lost some of our immunity to influenza. And as large crowds become normal again, this next flu season could lead to a resurgence of infections.

To prevent the spread, DOH urges everyone to get their flu shot and encourages those eligible to also get the COVID vaccine.

Health officials said it is safe to receive both vaccinations at the same time.

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