Covid-19 three times more deadly than flu, French study shows

A study using French national data has shown a death rate among Covid patients three times higher than that among flu patients in 2018/19 - which was France's worst flu season for five years.

Covid-19 three times more deadly than flu, French study shows
A hospital in Toulouse deals with a Covid patient in intensive care. Photo: AFP

The research, using French national data and lead by a French team, and published in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine on Friday, underscored the increased severity of illness for people with Covid-19.

Researchers compared data for 89,530 patients hospitalised with Covid-19 in March and April this year with 45,819 patients hospitalised with seasonal influenza between December 2018 and the end of February 2019.

Some 16.9 percent of Covid-19 patients died during the period of study – which was during the first wave of the virus. The second wave has seen some improvements in medical treatments which have lowered the number of Covid patients ending up in intensive care.

This compares to a death rate of 5.8 percent among those with influenza.

Catherine Quantin, a professor at the University Hospital of Dijon and the French national health institute INSERM who jointly led the study, said the difference in death rates was “particularly striking” given the 2018/19 flu season was the deadliest France had seen in five years.

The authors note that the difference in the number of hospitalisations –  which saw twice as many people admitted for Covid-19 than flu – may be partly explained by existing immunity to influenza, either because of previous infection or vaccination.

Researchers found that more patients with Covid-19 needed intensive care – 16.3 percent compared with 10.8 percent for influenza – while the average stay in ICU was nearly twice as long (15 days compared to 8 days).

The study also reported far fewer children under 18 hospitalised with Covid-19 than with flu – 1.4 percent compared to 19.5 percent.

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France’s monkeypox count rises to 277 as first woman contracts virus

France has detected 277 cases of monkeypox, health authorities said Tuesday, June 21st, including the first case in the country of a woman contracting the virus.

France's monkeypox count rises to 277 as first woman contracts virus

The case numbers have risen steeply since the last official figure of 183 cases five days earlier. But there have been no deaths in France attributed to monkeypox.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Until recently, the viral disease had generally been confined to Western and Central Africa but is now present in several continents, particularly Europe.

Among the latest cases recorded in France, “a first female case has been confirmed, the mode of transmission of which is currently being investigated, and all the others are men,” the French national public health agency said in a statement.

So far, the recent outbreak of monkeypox, which is currently affecting some 40 countries, has mainly affected men who have engaged in gay sex.

The World Health Organization is due to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to determine whether to classify the global monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.

The virus usually clears up after two or three weeks.

Most of the cases identified in France have been found in Paris and its suburbs, though smaller outbreaks have been seen in several regions throughout the country, including Normandy in the north and the Cote d’Azur in the south.

The first monkeypox case in France was discovered on May 20, the same day the virus was detected in neighbouring Germany.