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Coronavirus digest: COVID nearly three times deadlier than flu

Coronavirus, COVID-19

By: Deutsche Welle |

December 18, 2020 5:26:54 pm

Coronavirus, COVID-19
Some 16.9% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients died during the period of study. This compares to a death rate of 5.8% among those with cases of influenza severe enough to require care in a hospital. (Representational)

The death rate among hospitalized coronavirus patients is almost three times higher than those with the flu, new research has found.

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

Some 16.9% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients died during the period of study. This compares to a death rate of 5.8% among those with cases of influenza severe enough to require care in a hospital.

Researchers found that more patients with COVID-19 needed intensive care — 16.3% compared with 10.8% for influenza— while the average stay in intensive care was nearly twice as long at 15 days compared to eight days.

The research, published in the journal the Lancet Respiratory Medicine, contradicts US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who respectively likened the deadly virus to the flu and “a measly cold.”

The study also had a positive finding for children: Far fewer under-18s were hospitalized with COVID-19 than with flu — 1.4% of those infected compared to 19.5%.

Here’s DW’s overview of other major developments around the world.


A panel of advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday gave the green light to Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine on an emergency basis. The step makes it likely that the vaccine candidate will receive approval from the US regulator as early as Friday.

The Moderna jab would be the second vaccine allowed in a Western country after experts issued emergency approval for the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.

Columbia’s daily confirmed coronavirus cases reached their highest level since mid-August on Thursday. The spike is linked to celebrations to mark the feast of the Immaculate Conception — known locally as Night of the Candles — when families gather to put candles in their windows or outside their homes.

The Andean country recorded 12,196 new cases on Thursday, according to health ministry data.


The Philippines could secure between four to 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc and Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc, the Southeast Asia country’s ambassador to Washington said on Friday.

The Southeast Asian nation plans to buy doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech and AstraZeneca but missed out on purchasing the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.

In Japan, Drugmaker Pfizer Inc with BioNTech said it had applied for approval in Japan of its vaccine.

The Japanese government has a supply deal with Pfizer for 120 million vaccine doses of the vaccine. But, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference prior to Pfizer’s announcement that the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety would be priorities.


In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease monitoring and prevention agency, on Friday reported 33,777 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 813 deaths. Friday’s number of new confirmed cases includes some 3,500 for a German state that failed to report its results on Thursday.

Health Minister Jens Spahn has signed an order determining which groups in the country will be first in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine. He also presented a list of the groups that will be the first to be eligible for the jab when the vaccination program gets underway. The start is planned for December 27. On Thursday, a special vaccination commission published official recommendations for the vaccination program. Due to limited doses, those aged over 80 years and nursing home residents will be vaccinated first — they are considered most at risk from the coronavirus.

With the sale of fireworks banned during the pandemic, the western city of Cologne has called on residents to put on a different kind of display by flicking their light switches on and off for five minutes from midnight to mark the start of 2021. People are also being urged to stay at home and to refrain from setting off any fireworks they may already have.

A study from France shows that spending time in a restaurant or bar increases the risk of contracting the coronavirus, researchers from the Pasteur Institute in Paris announced Thursday. Socializing with guests for dinner also increases the likelihood of infection.

The study confirms assumptions that eating together carries a higher risk than other activities such as using public transportation or going shopping.

The researchers reached these conclusions after surveying around 3,400 people who had contracted the virus and nearly 1,700 people who remained virus-free.

Austria is to go into lockdown for at third time, starting after Christmas, media say. The lockdown will reportedly last until January 18. Several outlets reported that the lockdown would be longer for those who fail to get tested for the coronavirus while people who test negative will be freed from restrictions.


A second wave of coronavirus infections is hitting West and Central Africa: Nigeria, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo and Democratic Republic of Congo are all at or near record levels of infection, data compiled by news agency Reuters shows. Infections in Senegal are also rising fast.

Rwanda registered almost as many new cases in December with 722 as the entirety recorded since the beginning of infection at 797 cases.

Experts are warning it could be worse than the first wave as the weather cools.

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