Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi said that the WHO published a bulletin stating that COVID-19 is "equivalent in lethality to seasonal flu" in October 2020 in this video. I linked the video so that it should start at the relevant timestamp.

I looked through their bulletin for October and wasn't able to find this information. I also checked in November and December without success.

Is this information incorrect or is the date or source incorrect?

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    You can immediately sense the BS when he starts by saying no measures needed whatsoever. I see he's wiki-famous en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 7:54
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    I suspect that Bhakdi was referring to JPA Ioannidis, The infection fatality rate of COVID‐19 inferred from seroprevalence data, Bulletin of the WHO, 2020, but since Bhakdi did not specify the article it is hard to tell. This article by Dr. Ioannidis did not make it into print and is highly rebutted. Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 10:56
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    Perhaps humorously, Dr. Ioannidis is also the author of "Why most published research findings are false," PLoS medicine 2.8 (2005): e124. Getting something published, in print, in a peer reviewed scientific journal, is where science starts. Just because something is published in a scientific journal does not make it true. Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 11:00
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    "He gives his credentials at the beginning of the video" Sometimes it is better having some context in the question itself. If the video was removed this question would be highly lacking of content.
    – bradbury9
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 14:49
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    @Mari-LouA He was eg Prof for microbiology and infectiology from 1991–2012 at Uni Mainz, author of the the still most often used German textbook on the matter at hand (10.1007/978-3-642-18577-9), +300 pubmed entries.. Since he is a heretic concerning the current narrative, since 2020 he (was) switched sides from 'highly respected emeritus' to 'crackpot'. If you really think that relevant to that kind of question here, please try an edit Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 0:05

1 Answer 1


Yes and no.

According to how the question is framed. It seems as if the exact text of what is being spoken is as much interpretation of the listener as 'stated fact' by the presenter in the video. That makes the question necessitating a two part answer:

  1. What is referenced by the person talking in the video is this:

Results I included 61 studies (74 estimates) and eight preliminary national estimates. Seroprevalence estimates ranged from 0.02% to 53.40%. Infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 1.63%, corrected values from 0.00% to 1.54%. Across 51 locations, the median COVID-19 infection fatality rate was 0.27% (corrected 0.23%): the rate was 0.09% in locations with COVID-19 population mortality rates less than the global average (< 118 deaths/million), 0.20% in locations with 118–500 COVID-19 deaths/million people and 0.57% in locations with > 500 COVID-19 deaths/million people. In people < 70 years, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.31% with crude and corrected medians of 0.05%. Conclusion The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 can vary substantially across different locations and this may reflect differences in population age structure and case-mix of infected and deceased patients and other factors. The inferred infection fatality rates tended to be much lower than estimates made earlier in the pandemic.

— John P A Ioannidis: "Infection fatality rate of COVID-19 inferred from seroprevalence data", Publication: Bulletin of the World Health Organization; Type: Research Article ID: BLT.20.265892, (Submitted: 13 May 2020 – Revised version received: 13 September 2020 – Accepted: 15 September 2020 – Published online: 14 October 2020) link

  1. Whether this is a 'perfect' match for what he says in the video?

That paper is not directly comparing the IFR/CFR for both Covid19/Influenza. This comparison is made by Bakhdi. As such the comparison may be valid, but loaded with problems of all kinds. Numbers for IFR/CFR are based on very wobbly data, in both cases.

That this presentation of comparing numbers would be 'the consensus reached' is most probably, if not surely, false. In fact the Ioannidis paper is seriously disputed. With valid and invalid reasons, sometimes.

The current 'consensus' about that comparison, of course ignoring the highly stratified age-distribution of Covid risk compared with Influenza – according to what the WHO sees as 'consensus' is outdated but still:

Mortality for COVID-19 appears higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza. While the true mortality of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand, the data we have so far indicate that the crude mortality ratio (the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases) is between 3-4%, the infection mortality rate (the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections) will be lower. For seasonal influenza, mortality is usually well below 0.1%. However, mortality is to a large extent determined by access to and quality of health care.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Similarities and differences with influenza 17 March 2020 | Q&A WHO

But Bhakdi correctly quotes the numbers given from the paper presented on the WHO website. Whether these comparisons are a fitting description is currently under political investigation, as long as the scientific evidence numbers keep rolling in and opinions over how to interpret these still evolve.

'Disease' is also a socio-political, economic etc syndrome, and not a mechanistic linear function of viral properties. Access to medical care, proper medical care is a highly variable influence on outcome. So expect to see the numbers as well as any possible consensus about this change further in the future.

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    This answer is a bit too much both-siderism for me too up-vote given en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ioannidis#COVID-19 etc. Basically Ioannidis' conclusions are based on seroprevalence studies, which generally the least precise. (I'm not sure if he's even including excess mortality in the "IFR"... after all since we're extrapolating infections, why not extrapolate deaths too.) Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 5:42
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    I agree with @Fizz here. This site has far too many questions where someone asks "I watched a video where someone claims a scientific paper was published that says X. Was a scientific paper published that says X?" They never ask whether the paper is valid. Sometimes that might be because some people do not know that Most Published Research Findings Are False; it is our responsibility to help these people understand science and answer that unasked question. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 21:07
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    Others are, I suspect, plants, and intentionally do not ask whether the paper is valid because they know it is not. It is our responsibility to answer that unasked question. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 21:07
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    I didn't ask for validation in the question. I asked where to find the bulletin. Those are two completely different questions.
    – Zhro
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 12:58
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    @Zhro: I think this answers your question. You asked whether the WHO published a paper that said X. This answers says "Well, yes, there was a paper published on the topic (and here's a link), but it didn't say X, so the claim is strictly incorrect."
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 14, 2021 at 9:23

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