Paul Thottingal, MD, quoted in TIME story on differences between COVID-19 and influenza


Paul Thottingal, MD, infectious disease physician with Washington Permanente Medical Group and national infectious disease leader for Kaiser Permanente, told TIME magazine that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a much greater strain on the country’s hospital systems and frontline health care workers than influenza this year, which can result in reductions in the quality of care.

“At a certain point, it becomes very difficult to provide the level and quality of care that you want to provide for your patients,” Dr. Thottingal said.

Dr. Thottingal was quoted in an article, “What Makes COVID-19 Different From the Flu?,” which offers statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to demonstrate the serious nature of the coronavirus compared to seasonal influenza: COVID-19 was responsible for between 7% and 23% of all weekly deaths in the United States since the pandemic began, compared with about 4% for the flu in recent years.

A common perception about COVID-19 is that it’s just like the flu, leading some people to not take the pandemic as seriously as they should. The TIME story addresses a reader’s question about whether COVID-19 is really like the flu, and the conclusion from health experts is that it is not.

Dr. Thottingal added that the best approach to fighting COVID-19 continues to be preventative efforts, such as wearing a mask, keeping 6 feet apart from others, and washing hands frequently. “There is no silver bullet for managing critical [COVID-19] illness,” Dr. Thottingal said. “The silver bullet is actually preventing the infection in the first place.”

Note: Read the complete article on the TIME website.