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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

COVID-19 No Worse Than Flu? Tell That to the 610,000 Dead

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

If you recall when SARS-CoV-2 appeared in 2020, pandemic denialists — who continue to this day in one form or fashion — frequently said that COVID-19 was no worse than seasonal influenza. Some 610,000 Americans would beg to differ, if they could speak.

As part of an argument for healthcare workers to get vaccinated, a physician noted in a recently published paper that the mortality rate for influenza is estimated to be 1 in 1,000, whereas for SARS-CoV-2 is closer to 1 in 100 to 250.

“We need merely review the large bump in national death rates and decrease in life expectancy last year, compared to prior years, to appreciate that SARS-CoV-2 is more deadly than influenza,” says Michael Klompas, MD, a professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Trying to keep it simple, Klompas and authors list eight reasons healthcare workers should be mandated to receive COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. The rapidly spreading Delta variant was not one of them, but he says such mutations make the other reasons for mandates that much more compelling.

“Variants sharpen all the issues associated with COVID and the rationale in favor of vaccination because they increase the likelihood that one will get infected and then pass on infection to patients and colleagues,” Klompas says. “The vaccines fortunately appear to be protective against infection with variants and highly protective against severe disease.”

According to the paper, some of the other reasons that healthcare workers should be mandated to take the vaccines are summarized as follows:

  • Vaccines are critical to healthcare delivery.
  • Vaccines are safe.
  • Vaccines are effective.

For more on this story, see the next issue of Hospital Employee Health.