Early in the COVID-19 pandemic I saw some data implying there were of the order of 30,000 people alive in the UK who would have been expected to die in the previous two flu seasons, but who didn’t die as both flu seasons were very mild. These people are likely to have been predominantly elderly, and in poor health. In other words, just those who have been found to be at highest risk of dying if infected with COVID-19.
As the number of COVID-19 deaths in the UK rose, I kept expecting to see some analysis looking at a possible link between the COVID-19 deaths and the low intensity of the previous two flu seasons. But I didn’t see any. So I decided to do a very simple analysis myself.
It turns out that, across 32 European countries, significantly more COVID-19 deaths have occurred where there have been fewer flu deaths in the past two flu seasons.
Details and references are in a new working paper, published today. The relationship between COVID-19 deaths rates and previous flu intensity certainly looks as though it would be worth further and fuller investigation.