Another View on Influenza vs. COVID-19 Death Rates

James Lyons-Weiler, PhD – 3/22/2020

IN MY LAST ARTICLE, I compared the number of symptomatic cases of influenza in the first 49 days of the 2019/2020 season to the number of symptomatic and estimated cases of COVID-19. While the number of current cases of COVID-19 – those presenting clinically and diagnosed based on symptoms – may be similar, the increase in estimated number of mild cases – including subclinical asymptomatic cases vastly outstrips what people have been referring to as “the number of flu cases”.

Readers have correctly pointed out that I’m comparing apples and oranges – because the number of flu cases is also not fully known. Many people w/influenza ALSO do not go to the doctor, and thus would be “mild” or asymptomatic.

My response is “100% correct” and that proves my point. Individuals comparing “flu cases” to COVID-19 to flu don’t know the asymptomatic rate for influenza. It is very difficult to estimate a case fatality rate during an outbreak – and it may vary from country to country depending on, obviously, the medical facilities’ ability to save lives during the critical phase of a disease, which for COVID-19 involves, I believe, an autoimmune attack leading to unresolvable pneumonia (symptomatic) but massive tissue damage to the lungs (lung immunopathology).

So let’s get into that. There’s a lot at stake in understanding the rate of spread of COVID-19 compared to influenza – as well as the case fatality rate.

The WHO publishes data on influenza cases in the US

I can literally hear the vaccine risk aware person pulling their hair out. “There are NOT 22,000 deaths from influenza every year!” Extremely valid point, we’ll get back to that in a minute. It’s key.

Here death rate confirmed cases” is

#deaths in symptomatic cases / total symptomatic cases x 100

Here “death rate per est. cases” is

#deaths in estimated cases / total estimated cases x 100

WHO provided total estimated cases for influenza

IPAK provided total estimated cases for COVID using the correction factor

#symptomatic cases / (1-0.86)

Why 1-0.86?

Because China provided an estimate of the number of undetected cases.

The ratio of estimated CFR – COVID CFR / Influenza is 2.9

Apples to apples.

Yes, we can debate the accuracy of 0.86, whether it applies to the US.

In fact, we can debate every number in the table.

WHO’s numbers of influenza cases and deaths come from the CDC.

The fact that they actually represent “flu-syndrome” cases is failure of public health administration – a failure of EPIC… no, COSMIC proportions.

No one can estimate a solid death rate between COVID-19 and Influenza.

So now, when it really does matter, we are – all of us- left with impressions of data, not data; death rate estimates that flip-flop.

Head spinning?

Mine, too.

I’d suggest we focus on the rates – in symptomatic cases – of hospitalization and the rates of critical cases.

And I’d sugges that we stay focused on the abuse of data for politics – including COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Focus on ending lock-downs. Focus on preserving constitutional rights. That means ending the pandemic. Plain and simple. Therapeutics, therapeutics, therapeutics. Yes, there are risks. Years ago, when I was traveling from Ohio State University to Ecuador, I was given the choice of taking chloroquine phosphate. The CHOICE. The risk? Mild permanent hearing loss. I accepted the risk, and did not get malaria. I’m fine.

This study – using the world’ fastest supercomputer – identified 77 small molecular compounds that are most likely to show efficacy against COVID-19. They include quercetin. Luteolin. Vitamin C. And other FDA-approved drugs.

There are two lists, available at the link to the study. I am sharing the two lists here to expedite access to those seeking them. Here’s the full download link as well.

List FDA-approved compounds and herbal medicine which target the S-protein.

List of FDA-approved compounds and herbal medicine which the ACE-2 docking receptors.


    1. No I am absolutely not a medical doctor. I’m a PhD. I have 18 years of experience in biomedical research including basic studies via animals and cell lines, clinical trials, and translational research. This site includes a copy to my NIH biosketch as well as an extended but outdated biography.

  1. Could a further factor causing people to become very ill, very quickly be due to them bordering on acidosis?

    The in vitro study states:
    “The potential contribution of these drugs in the elevation of endosomal pH and its impact on subsequent virus entry or exit could not be ruled out. A decrease in SARS-CoV pseudotype transduction in the presence of NH4Cl was observed and was attributed to the effect on intracellular pH. When chloroquine or NH4Cl are added after infection, these agents can rapidly raise the pH and subvert on-going fusion events between virus and endosomes, thus inhibiting the infection.”

    Perhaps the modern Chines and Italian diets are ‘acid’ rather than alkaline. Much has been claimed for the health benefits of the alkaline diet. Even though vit C is an acid, it too increases cellular pH as it gets metabolised in the mitochondria. I’ve also come across a few anecdotal reports by individuals saying the Wim Hof breathing method is helping them a great deal with there symptoms. The Wim Hof method for those that don’t know also raises pH and Wim has under gone many science trials to prove he can do what he claims etc.

    Testing this acid/alkaline diet hypothesis would be difficult as we are starved of even more important data regarding the status of victims but I thought I’d throw it in in case some one thinks it has merit.

    1. Wim Hof’s techniques increase blood oxygenation, which reduces furin expression and protects against these types of viruses. See the links I posted below

      1. Thanks for those links Tim. They are well referenced too. The dose rates ref 35 gave for Vit C is the same (from memory) that Linus Pauling recommended for the common cold. Goner have to read these through a few times as this is what I’m weak on.

  2. “It is now extremely clear why the extensive use of vitamin C in China as therapeutic treatment for COVID-19 has produced most encouraging results, showing quick recovery of COVID-19 patients. Ascorbic acid can act on multiple levels, reducing oxidative stress, regulating hypoxia signaling, mitochondrial membrane potential, furin expression, and modulation of immune defenses to stem the progression of cytokine storms.” —

    “These are the reasons why 50 tons of Vitamin C were sent to Wuhan to help citizens combat COVID-19 [54], and doctors from China are reporting excellent patient recovery rates from the use of Vitamin C in the treatment of COVID-19.” —

    1. Vitamin C also acts as an oxidant at times which would be potentially analogous to ozone as a highly successful treatment against various pathogens, including Ebola, as Dr. Robert Rowen has explained in his applications of ozone. Reactive oxygen species are routinely used by our immune system to destroy invaders. Vitamin C has also been shown to be an effective antihistamine.

      Vitamin D is important too. Two days ago I noticed a mainstream media article describing how S. America (and Africa) are headed towards their winter season and thus are bracing for a potentially big COVID 19 surge. Viruses don’t become more active in colder temperatures. It’s the reduced sun exposure and dropping vitamin D levels that’s the issue. D is not simply for immune system stimulation, it’s an immune system modulator, i.e. it’s necessary to quell cytokine storms. That’s why high dose vitamin D has been successfully used to put autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis into remission (published and available pub med). I know about this modulating function first hand having had a parathyroid adenoma. With very low D levels I caught a cold and the resulting cytokine storm ravaged a tendon in my ankle such that I couldn’t walk without a soft brace for nearly a year until it fully healed.

      At this critical time, I don’t understand why more physicians aren’t recommending moderate vitamin D supplementation along with strategies to naturally produce D when it’s feasible (sun exposure, tanning beds).

  3. Do you have any idea — other than politics — why those in positions of influence seem to be universally ignoring any possibility that this virus may have been circulating in the U.S. already for weeks or even months before we started testing for it?

    It seems to me that there’s no way (at least given the tools currently at our disposal) to solidly rule that in or out, but IF the virus has been here for longer than the assumptions, then all of the projections are faulty because they’re based on faulty premises.

    Is there a scientific reason the industry is basically certain the virus can’t have been here sooner, or is it just easier to ignore it than to acknowledge that everyone is basically guessing (educated guessing in many cases, but still guessing)?

  4. Thank you for this information. Thank you for paying attention and doing your best to analyze information and share it with those of us without scientific training. Much appreciated.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dr. Lyons-Weiler. A breath of fresh air.

  6. I think , pray, and hope President Trump heeds your advice. There’s 9 days remaining in his self imposed 15 day program. He may never get the 1.25 Trillion in funding from the Chinese wing of congress by then… PDJT will hopefully, instead open up the economic floodgates in 9 days by releasing the current hysterical restrictions.Thank you for your postings, learned alot and can understand the basics as I was a Bio major back in the 70’s. 1st saw you about 10 days ago on censored AJ’s network… I think he still convinced that this is an engineered HIV bio weapon. Your findings as far as the origins and makeup of this virus are more convincing.

  7. Can you answer or give a rebuttal for the questions/concerns this author raises?
    I originally thought this was being way overblown. After reading your work, listening to a couple of your podcasts, and keeping up with what Peter Attia and his team have been doing, I’ve had second thoughts on my stance. This author makes some good points and raises important questions from a policy perspective, and I find myself going back to my original thoughts of this being overblown and the measures being taken causing much more harm than good. One interesting point he makes is the difference in recording cause of death that can vary from country to country and even hospital to hospital and how that can drastically affect the numbers we’re seeing regarding the death rate.
    Thanks for your time.

  8. According to this 103,000 tests as of March 20. Thats more than double confirmed cases

    According to this study asymptomatic influenza about 16% of total. Pretty large range of estimates though

    US has about 5 times as many ICU beds as in Italy per capita. The number of ventilators exceed number of ICU beds. In normal times ICU capacity in US only 68%. In Italy its 85-90%.
    US actually pretty well positioned

    More than 250,000 people are hospitalized for pneumonia annually in the US.  The mortality rate for pneumonia in the US population (all ages) is 15.1 deaths per 100,000.
    An estimated 50,000 Americans die of pneumonia annually (137/DAY). 7500 Americans per day die of all causes.

    Almost half the global deaths have occurred in Lombardy and Wuhan. Both fairly polluted areas with heavy smoking populations and large elderly populations.

    Almost all deaths among what used to be known as mediterranean peoples (iran, italy, spain) and those of Chinese descent, and elderly and those with other comorbidities

    Interesting that those countries dealing with malaria few COVID 19 cases. Testing issue or high use of hydrochloroquine

    For those speculating the disease has been circulating since November, its known now that Chinas first case was November 17. China didn’t start testing more people until January 18 when cases spiked. Assuming a 2 month lag I would guess the virus has been around in US since mid January. Many tens of thousands of Chinese and expats living in China not to mention businessmen likely came into the US and Italy before the Lunar New Year and Wuhan lockdown

    A chinese study recently reported that testing asymptomatic and mild symptoms yields false positives of 50% or higher since the specificity of the tests is not 100% and the prevalence is low. FDA is allowing manufacturers of tests to self validated without review of their data. More testing outside of hospitalized patients and staff provides little value at this point but to inflate the numbers

  9. Thank you Dr Weiler! I also found something intriguing about the the Covid-19 reported mortality figures. Over at Skeptical Raptor I was commenting that there was wide variation in mortality rates when we check Worldometer cases, and this variation was likely due from some countries testing more and finding more cases, resulting in lower mortality figures. Germany, for instance, was reporting a very low mortality rate of 0.37 relative to other countries.

    I was subsequently challenged by another commenter to provide evidence that increased testing correlated with lower mortality for the various countries. Sure enough, I found a source providing the number of testings by countries. Searching the population total for those countries, I was able to calculate the percentage tested by population. I went on to input this figure and reported mortality rates in a linear regression calculator, and sure enough my suspicion was confirmed. The result was a negative slope confirming that increased testing was correlating with decreased mortality. I also obtained a result suggesting that projected testing of 1% (most countries have tested far less!) would yield a very low mortality figure of 0.34%.

    All said, there are very good reasons to be suspicious of the claims that Covid-19 is so much more deadly than the flu. I believe when the outbreak resolves their mortality rates will be in line, and Covid-19 will go down in history as the mother of all public health overreactions.

    Countries / Percent of population tested / Worldometer mortality figures (March 20th)

    Italy 0.34 9.99
    Iran 0.09 7.55
    Spain 0.06 5.40
    China 0.02 4.03
    France 0.05 3.88
    Netherlands 0.03 3.74
    Japan 0.01 3.41
    Belgium 0.16 2.38
    Canada 0.15 1.43
    USA 0.03 1.25
    South Korea 0.61 1.16
    Switzerland 0.05 1.16
    Sweden 0.14 1.13
    UK 0.06 1.11*
    Denmark 0.19 0.98
    Australia 0.46 0.65
    Germany 0.20 0.37
    Norway 0.81 0.32
    Austria 0.17 0.27

    *It came to my attention a few days later that the mortality figure for UK was incorrect. Unable to get the accurate figure, they are excluded from the calculation.

  10. I highly respect your work, but Mike Adams “The Health Ranger” who is respected by a wide following of people questions the accuracy of any researchers who question the rate of infection or the rate of mortality of Cov19. Perhaps you can address this issue in some way without losing your focus on your other research and important writing. Thank you.

  11. James, I’ve been watching, listening to you and many others for some time, even prior to this mess we are in now. My latest pass on it was the exosome theory from, I believe Dr Kaufman. Now I don’t have any real credentials, I’m just an electric man concerned with many issues at stake, and I’m not trying to play scientist by any means, but from an outsiders view, and I don’t remember if this has been covered in any detail, is it possible this may be a tainted flu vaccine causing all these similar flu like symptoms, cytokine storms, respiratory distress etc… Thanks and keep on!

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