COVID still killing far more than flu, data shows

If you’ve been experiencing cold and flu symptoms lately, there’s a good chance that it’s actually COVID-19 you’re suffering from.

Australians are contracting – and dying – from COVID-19 at more than three times the rate of regular flu in 2024, health data reveals.

Figures analysed by The New Daily show there were 30,471 confirmed cases of influenza in the first three months of the year, causing 76 deaths so far. Hefty and concerning numbers to be sure.

But the same data shows there were 95,861 recorded COVID cases in the same period, leading to a staggering 1062 deaths.

“In other words, there were three times as many confirmed COVID-19 cases as influenza cases,” says Professor Adrian Esterman, a biostatistics and epidemiology expert at the University of South Australia.

“And the death rate associated with COVID-19 was about four times as high.”

Take a look at your nightly news though, and you wouldn’t think that was the case. ‘Flu season’ might get a mention here and there, but COVID-19 and it’s effects have largely disappeared from the public consciousness,

“We hear very little from our governments about protecting ourselves,” Prof. Esterman says.

“Further, we are currently seeing a new wave of COVID-19 cases starting in Australia.”

Why are COVID-19 case numbers rising again?

There are a few reasons for the spike, principal of which is that we’re heading into winter. Data from 2020 to now shows case numbers tend to spike when the weather gets colder. People stay inside more, often in close proximity to others and usually don’t let much fresh air into their homes.

A highly transmissible new family of COVID variants has also been detected in Australia, and it’s suspected of playing a large role in the increased spread.

Nicknamed the FLiRT variant family, the group is made up of two similar subvariants known as KP.1 and KP.2, both of which have split from the JN.1 variant detected here just this month.

The FLiRT name refers to specific mutations on the virus’s spike proteins that make the subvariants different to JN.1.

Stuart Turville, associate professor of virology at the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute, told the ABC the new variant takes all of what made JN.1 so transmissible and adds to it.

“It’s essentially JN.1, but it’s got a few changes that could make it navigate a bit better through immunity,” he said. 

“The way it gets a competitive advantage in the community is it essentially starts to have changes which give it a better ability to navigate antibodies.”

Aged care outbreaks

Aged care facilities have acted as something of a canary in the coal mine during the COVID years, and figures show they are still disproportionately affected.

According to government figures, there were 3110 active COVID-19 cases across 378 outbreaks in Australian aged care facilities as of 16 May.

The same figures show that 2812 of those cases, and 83 of the outbreaks, were recorded in a single week since 9 May, showing just how fast this new variant is moving through aged care.

Prof. Esterman says data shows only 39.9 per cent of people aged 75 and over have had a booster shot since the beginning of the year and only 25 per cent of those aged between 64 and 75, greatly exacerbating the problem.

“Our governments should at the very least be encouraging vulnerable people to get up to date with their booster shots, and wear face masks when necessary,” he says.

Have you had COVID-19 this year? When was the last time you had a COVID booster? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: The COVID vaccine Aussies can’t get

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Covid and the flu does not kill people!!!
    They make underlying illnesses (like asthma heart disease or other chronic illnesses) re-surface and the body is not strong enough to fight them

    • Misinformation, to say the least. Influenza and Covid can both lead to pneumonia – a condition not a disease, with inflammation filling your lungs completely with fluid, so you cannot breathe.

  2. Just ask those in my mother’s retirement village why they aren’t getting boosters. So many of them were very unwell for 5-7 days after their Moderna boosters that they will not have a bar of any more! Some have ongoing problems eerily similar to Long Covid. Word gets around!

  3. I’ve had my boosters. And bring medical believe totally in the vaccines. The patients that get very sick tend to be the unvaccinated. The evidence is there. Thankfully my family have all had their boosters too.

    • I’ve had my boosters. And being medical believe totally in the vaccines. The patients that get very sick tend to be the unvaccinated. The evidence is there. Thankfully my family have all had their boosters too.

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