ATLANTA — The COVID-19 pandemic is now the deadliest pandemic in America’s history.
Vaccines and masks continue to be a hot-button issue, especially when it comes to mandates in schools.
Recently, during a protest outside an August Cobb County School Board meeting, a parent supporting the board's decision to keep masks optional made the following argument:
“If kids are dying at a lesser rate than the flu, then what do we need masks for?”
So, we wanted to verify if children have died less from COVID than from the flu.
Yes, but it needs context.
WHAT WE FOUND:
First, to address an elephant in the room. More kids have died from the flu overall because the flu has been around longer than COVID-19.
However, the two viruses are not the same, and COVID spreads more rapidly than the flu.
Here's a breakdown of recent numbers in Georgia and the country since the COVID pandemic began.
According to Georgia's DPH COVID-19 report, here's what the data shows for individuals under the age of 18 since the start of the pandemic:
- 16 kids died from COVID
- 21,991 (individuals under the age of 18) have died overall from COVID
- Children's deaths account for 0.072% of all COVID deaths in the state
- 15 children have died from the flu in the 2019-2020 season (Flu deaths are updated quarterly)
- 1,299 people died from the flu in the same time period
- Childrens' deaths make up 1.1% of all flu deaths in the state
In comparison, here's what the data shows for individuals under the age of 18 in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic:
- 544 children have died from COVID
- 682,646 people have died overall from COVID
- Nationally, childrens' deaths account for .079% of all COVID deaths
- 434 children died from the flu last season
- 21,909 people died overall from the flu
- Nationally, children's deaths made up 1.9% of national flu deaths
To add context, fewer people died from the flu overall in the 2019-2020 season because, as the CDC noted, pandemic precautions like handwashing, social distancing, and masks, helped.
So, this is a two-fold answer. Yes, there’s a larger percentage of flu deaths in children, but more children died of COVID.
It’s hard to definitively say kids are dying at a lesser rate than the flu because we don’t know how long COVID-19 will persist and because we don't know the impact of the current flu season.
The data in this article is current as of Sept. 24.