The H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu, emerged in Spring of 2009. First detected in the United States, the swine flu spread worldwide and contained a unique combination of influenza genes which hadn’t previously been identified in animals or people [1].

With the impact of COVID-19 growing across the world, it’s only natural to compare and contrast it to the swine flu pandemic - but, is coronavirus worse than Swine Flu? Let’s discuss.

Is Coronavirus Worse Than Swine Flu?

The swine flu pandemic lasted around a year and was caused by the H1N1 strain of the flu virus. As this pandemic occurred 11 years ago, there’s important information and statistics we have access to regarding the virus that we don’t yet have for COVID-19, these include [2]:

  • It infected up to 1.4 billion people worldwide
  • It caused 575,500 deaths
  • It had a mortality rate of <0.1%; similar to the mortality rate of the seasonal flu

COVID-19 statistics and information change day by day so it’s difficult to provide a direct answer as to whether it’s possibly ‘worse’ than swine flu. That said, according to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate for Coronavirus stands at 3.4% which is of course a great deal higher than swine flu [3]

It’s crucial to keep in mind that the spread of this new strain of coronavirus is a rapidly evolving situation and there are new learnings regarding it everyday making it difficult to compare it to a virus which has multitudes of studies and statistics behind it.

Remember to do what you can do for yourself and your community during this time and follow health guidelines, practice social distancing and wash those hands!


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2009 H1N1 Pandemic (H1N1pdm09 virus). Online:, 2019
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2009 H1N1 Pandemic (H1N1pdm09 virus). Online:, 2019
  3. World Health Organization. WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 3 March 2020. Online:, 2020