Trump official says coronavirus death rate same as flu – despite it being 100 times worse

Oliver O'Connell
Chad Wolf, acting Secretary of Homeland Security and Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans: PBS

In congressional testimony today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf claimed that the mortality rate for coronavirus is similar to the flu, both at about 2 per cent.

In response, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana asks: “Are you sure of that?”

The secretary doubled down on his answer.

While he is correct on the current average for coronavirus which is considered by the World Health Organisation to be approximately 2 per cent, although it fluctuates as more data comes in, the mortality rate for seasonal flu is much lower.

Data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention indicates a mortality rate closer to 0.1 per cent in a standard flu season in the US over the past decade.

Severe outbreaks of influenza in the past such as that in 1918-1919 have had a similar mortality rate to coronavirus.

Mortality rates fluctuate when the age of the patient is brought into the equation, with the very young and the elderly often most at risk.