Influenza cases decreased during the first years of the pandemic, likely because of measures adopted to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. In this video, FactCheck.org teamed up with Factchequeado to debunk a viral post that falsely implied the decrease in flu cases in 2020 and 2021 meant that COVID-19 was a hoax.
Wearing masks, keeping a distance from other people, washing hands frequently and limiting travel helped to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have said those measures also helped to slow the circulation of other viruses that spread predominantly through respiratory droplets, like the influenza viruses that cause the flu.
But that does not mean that “COVID is basically the influenza flu,” as someone commented on a post that went viral on social media. The post pointed to a graph showing the decrease in flu cases and asked: “One of the greatest mysteries of COVID-19: Where did the flu go in 2020 and 2021?”
As we explain in the video, the flu and COVID-19 are different diseases, caused by different viruses. COVID-19 has killed more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. since 2020. The flu caused roughly 40,000 deaths each year from 2012-2013 to 2019-2020, according to the CDC.
For more details, see our story “Fewer Cases of Flu Due to Pandemic Precautions, Contrary to Viral Claim,” which, like the video, is available in English and Spanish.
This video is part of a series of videos jointly produced by FactCheck.org and Factchequeado, a media outlet that counters Spanish-language misinformation in the U.S. Latino community, to provide accurate information on health issues.
Editor’s note: SciCheck’s articles providing accurate health information and correcting health misinformation are made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control over FactCheck.org’s editorial decisions, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation.