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No, the Coronavirus Is Not Just like the Flu

Twitter appended a note to Mr. Trump’s tweet, saying that it violated the company’s rules about spreading false and misleading information about the virus. But it kept the post up, saying that it was in the public interest to keep it accessible. Facebook removed a similar post from Mr. Trump, saying that the company removes incorrect information about the coronavirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 24,000 and 62,000 flu-related deaths occur in the United States each year — substantially fewer than Mr. Trump claimed. In February, Mr. Trump stuck closer to the facts at a White House news conference. “The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me,” he said at the time. Earlier that month, according to the recent book by Bob Woodward, Mr. Trump described the coronavirus as “more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” On average, seasonal flu strains kill about 0.1 percent of the people they infect.

The coronavirus, on the other hand, has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States, and more than one million worldwide, since the start of 2020. The virus’s true mortality rate remains unclear, as it is difficult to gather such data while the pandemic rages on. Inadequate testing has also made it hard to pinpoint how many people have been stricken by the virus, which can spread silently from people who never show symptoms.

Still, estimates from experts tend to put the coronavirus’s death rate higher than the flu’s. The virus’s death toll was especially high in late winter and spring, when hospitals were overwhelmed, clinically tested treatments were scarce and masking and distancing were even more scarce than they are now.

“This is basically nonsensical ranting and raving,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, said about Mr. Trump’s statements. “This just demonstrates that, for a businessman, President Trump doesn’t seem to have much of a grasp of mathematics.”

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