Fauci refutes Trump’s false claim that flu is as deadly as COVID-19

By Nelson Oliveira

New York Daily News

Dr. Anthony Fauci has joined a growing number of health experts refuting President Donald Trump’s demonstrably false claim that coronavirus is “far less lethal” than the common flu.

Speaking during a Cornell University event Tuesday, the government’s top infectious disease expert said the potential for what COVID-19 can do is “very, very much different from influenza.”

“You don’t get a pandemic that kills a million people and it isn’t even over yet within influenza,” he told NBC News’ Kate Snow at the virtual event. “So it is not correct to say it’s the same as flu. It has some overlapping symptomatology early on. But flu doesn’t do the things to you that COVID-19 can.”

Trump, who was hospitalized with coronavirus for three nights and is still believed to be contagious, wrote on his social media pages early Tuesday that the seasonal flu kills “sometimes over 100,000” despite a vaccine.

“Are we going to close down our Country?” he asked. “No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”

In reality, however, the number of Americans who died from the flu every year in the past decade has ranged from 12,000 to 61,000, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 100,000 annual benchmark has rarely been reached in U.S. history.

The coronavirus death toll in the U.S., meanwhile, was approaching 211,000 Wednesday morning, just nine months after the virus was first found in this country.

Trump’s fact-free assertion was so inaccurate that Facebook removed his post from the platform and Twitter hid the message for violating its rules about “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”

Fauci, who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than three decades, acknowledged that coronavirus does cause “flu-like” symptoms in many cases, but he warned the public to take basic precautions because the pandemic is still far from over.

“There are some things that should be universally practiced, and that is the universal wearing of masks, avoiding crowds, keeping a distance, doing things outdoors more than indoors and washing our hands frequently,” he said. “That doesn’t matter who you are. That’s what you should be doing.”