COVID-19 has repeatedly been shown to be more dangerous than influenza.
Dr. Michael Yeadon is known for asserting or repeating false claims about COVID-19. In February 2021, Yeadon was recorded making false statements concerning the emergence of new variants, saying that immunized people –– through either prior infection or vaccination –– are not susceptible to the new variants. Most recently, Yeadon, a former vice president in Pfizer's allergy and respiratory research division, has claimed that the U.K. public has been lied to by the government about the severity of COVID-19, asserting that the 'actual threat' posed by COVID-19 is akin to a "severe influenza."
In the video, Yeadon recounts his experiences of following the news coverage of the pandemic's development through its early stages, particularly how he concluded that "the actual threat [of COVID-19] in the environment is not much worse than a severe influenza." This is patently false for several reasons. Firstly, data from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2018 and 2019, the total number of annual deaths from influenza in England and Wales were 1,223 and 1,598, respectively. During the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the Office for National Statistics recorded a total of 9,495 deaths involving COVID-19 in a single day alone.
Furthermore, COVID-19 has been shown to leave some people with severe long-term symptoms even after they have recovered from the initial infection. Such cases have come to be known as "long COVID." Although some people who develop long COVID recover after several months, many others continue to experience symptoms indefinitely. Symptoms include (but are not limited to) fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, problems with memory and concentration, insomnia, joint pain, and nausea. There is no known equivalent condition that follows a flu infection.
Finally, the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) of COVID-19 is higher than that of the flu. The overall IFR is the proportion of deaths among all infected people. The overall IFR for flu has been estimated at 0.04 percent, according to Oxford University epidemiologist Christophe Fraser. In 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) strongest estimate for the overall IFR of COVID-19 was 0.65 percent, based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of 24 studies. This means that more people who are infected with COVID-19 are more likely to die than those who are infected with the flu.
From early in the pandemic, the international medical and scientific community has shown that COVID-19 is significantly more dangerous than seasonal influenza, both due to higher severity per infection, as well as its high rate of infection creating the potential to place immense stress on healthcare systems around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.