Re: News has collected some of the concerns around the Covid-19 vaccine. These come from people like you, who follow and comment on our content, our friends and whānau, and our own team members.

We’ve put together stories unpacking them, hopefully easing worries around unknowns, and providing information for conversations in your families and communities. We hope you find it useful.

Here, we look at comparisons between Covid-19 and Influenza.

On the surface both viruses seem very similar - a point which has had a lot of attention since the beginning of the pandemic. However, there are also significant differences between them. 

We talk to an expert to find out what the difference really is and why it's important.  

Death Rate

John Taylor, a senior lecturer in virology at Auckland University, says it’s “simply preposterous” to say that COVID-19 is no more serious than influenza. 

A comparison of death rates from different influenza strains shows Covid-19 causes more harm. 

For example, the Swine flu pandemic - which peaked in 2009 - is considered one of the more deadly strains of influenza. It has a much lower death rate than Covid-19. 

“Following the swine flu pandemic, about 100,000 people died worldwide. Right now Covid-19 has had about 5 million deaths in a year and a half,” says Taylor.

In New Zealand, about 500 people die each year from the common strain of Influenza. If New Zealand had followed similar Covid-19 trends to the USA or the UK an estimated 10,000 people may have died over the last 18 months since the start of the pandemic. 

“Anybody who is still claiming that COVID-19 is no different to the flu, simply are ignoring the numbers that have now been collated,” says Taylor. 


Comparisons between Covid-19 and Influenza often come from the similarities between symptoms. Symptoms are simply our bodies response to the virus. 

“We often talk about the kinds of symptoms that we get after a viral infection as being flu-like symptoms. That's the combination of a sore head, aching, sore joints, fever,” says Taylor 

The most important difference between the two viruses is that Covid-19 has a significantly higher chance of producing severe symptoms. For example, with the common flu, the most common symptoms are fever, muscle aches, headaches. These usually last 7 to ten days, but a dry cough can also linger for weeks afterwards. 

Similar symptoms can be found with Covid but can last up to 14 days. 

Research shows about 4.6 percent of people who contract Covid-19 will be hospitalised because of how severe the virus is. Compare this to Influenza which has a hospitalisation rate of 0.067 percent. Numbers vary between communities of different backgrounds, ethnicities and ages, but all show Covid-19 develops more severe symptoms.  

In most cases the symptoms from both Covid-19 and Influenza will be moderate and indistinguishable from each other.  

“Most of the clinical damage that follows an infection of a virus is actually produced by the vigour of the immune response rather than the virus itself. Both of these viruses influenza, and COVID-19, induce a very strong systemic response,” says Taylor.

Still have more questions about the Covid-19? Check out our other articles covering vaccines and Covid-19.

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