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VERIFY: Is COVID-19 more deadly than the flu?

New research suggests COVID-19 is 20 times more deadly than the flu. However, doctors say there are several factors you must consider.

Doctors continue to stress the flu is more of a threat than COVID-19. However, new research out of China has raised the question, "Is COVID-19 more deadly than the flu?"

News 8 turned to Dr. William Tseng for answers. He's a physician in charge of safety at Kaiser Permanente.

"The case fatality rate for influenza is less than one percent," said Dr. Tseng. "But for COVID-19 it's two to three percent. Yes, it is more deadly than the regular flu." 

But, he said you also have to take into consideration it's far less deadly than Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), two other coronaviruses. SARS fatality rate is 10% to 11%. MERS is 35%. 

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 "If you look at COVID-19, we have two cases in San Diego County that are isolated. And it hasn't killed anyone in the United States. Outside of Asia there's only one person in France who died from the COVID-19 virus," Dr. Tseng added. 

In San Diego County, there have been 16,000 cases of the flu and 63 deaths so far this year.

In the United States, 26 million have been infected with the flu, and 14,000 people have died. 

"Take those numbers and compare them to COVID-19," said Dr. Tseng. "We really want to focus on what's happening, and what's real in our county."

So, which spreads faster? The flu or COVID-19? 

"At this point, we don't know," said Dr. Tseng. "We know COVID-19 is more infectious than SARS or MERS, however, we don't have the exact number yet because it's still undergoing analysis."

The bottom line Dr. Tseng said when it comes to COVID-19 is this:

"The likelihood of you contracting COVID-19 are nil at this point. We have to be careful, aware, but we have to look at what's happening in our communities now and that is that the flu. It is a very deadly disease," he said.

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