How Flu Deaths and Other Common Killers Compare With Coronavirus

You'll be shocked by how many Americans die from the flu, cancer, and more compared with COVID-19.

Over the past month amid the coronavirus pandemic, you've likely heard a few people say, "More people die from the flu every year" than they have from COVID-19. And while it is technically true that, on average, annual deaths from the flu exceed the current 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus, this simple number comparison is a misleading statistic. According to projections from Healthdata, current estimates of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus come in just under 70,000 total fatalities. But the difference is not in the total number of deaths—it's the exponential spike in deaths caused by the COVID-19 virus.

Consider that on Feb. 15, there were zero U.S. coronavirus deaths; by Mar. 15, there were less than a thousand; and by Apr. 15, there were roughly 30,000. It is the out of control nature and very sharp increase in deaths that is so gravely concerning.

But in order to put this all in perspective, we looked at the leading causes of death in the U.S. by the numbers, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here's how deaths due to heart disease, cancer, and more common killers stack up against coronavirus.

Heart Disease

heartburn or chest pain for a man clutching his chest

According to the CDC's most recent report, nearly 648,000 U.S. citizens died as a result of heart disease in 2017, which was about a 2 percent increase from the previous year. Even after the coronavirus pandemic is over, it's highly likely that heart disease will still be the No. 1 killer in the country. And for more on heart disease, check out 40 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease After 40.


Cancer patient

In 2017, just under 600,000 American citizens died due to "malignant neoplasms," also known as cancer, the CDC reports. That's about nine times the number of lives that coronavirus is expected to claim. And for more on the symptoms to look out for, check out the 20 Most Commonly Overlooked Cancer Symptoms, According to Doctors.

Influenza and pneumonia

doctor shows patient chest x-ray on tablet

According to the CDC, in 2017, about 56,000 individuals died due to the flu and pneumonia. This was almost a 10 percent increase from 2016. And unfortunately, it's a number coronavirus is expected to exceed in 2020.


New York ambulance whizzing by on street

In 2017, 47,000 Americans died due to suicide, which was the 10th leading cause of death that year. Again, coronavirus will likely claim nearly double as many lives in 2020.

Car accidents

car crash in the middle of the highway with the busted front car

In 2018, 39,000 U.S. citizens died as a result of car accidents, according to the National Safety Council. With far fewer people out on the road in 2020, that number will likely go down. But coronavirus, on the other hand, could kill double that number of people this year. And for more answers to the questions you have about COVID-19, check out 16 Coronavirus Myths You Need to Stop Believing, According to Doctors.

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