Is having Omicron worse than having flu?

Having one of the earlier variants was worse than having flu, at least in some senses such as higher fatality rate. Is that true of Omicron?

Apparently it’s fairly common to have covid and not know it, or have very mild symptoms. Does that happen with flu? How does the range of severity (symptomless to death), the distribution of outcomes, compare between Omicron and flu?

We don’t really know yet for Omicron, and it varies a lot between annual strains of influenza. Also there’s rarely the same level of testing of the asymptomatic to look for the flu, so we generally only know the symptoms for people who are sick enough to see a doctor.

Overall, yes. Unvaccinated people who catch omicron are more likely to be hospitalized and die than unvaccinated people who catch the flu. For a particular person, maybe not. If you’re a child just barely old enough to have been vaccinated against COVID, you might possibly be at greater danger from the flu, since the flu hits children harder than adults, while COVID seems to hit adults harder. Plus, the 2-shot COVID vaccines, at least with a booster, may possibly be more effective against omicron than the flu shot is against this year’s flu, given past data on flu shot efficacy.

The answer here is “it depends.” I got Omicron and I had a mildly sore throat for two days, and then I was fine. I’ve had the flu, and I thought I was going to die.

On the other hand, the number of people in the ICU because of Omicron continues to rise in a way the flu hasn’t done since before the abbreviation “ICU” was a thing, so for some people apparently Omicron is terrifyingly severe.

I’m not attacking, but this doesn’t really address the question, from what I can tell.

I think there’s no argument that Omicron is much, much more contagious than the flu, even among the vaccinated. And, there’s no argument that both will hit some people harder than others.

But if you already have Omicron, is it likely that you’ll feel worse than if you have the flu? My guess is, no, you won’t feel as bad. I’m confident that you won’t feel as bad if you’re vaccinated, and it’s probably likely that you won’t feel as bad if you’re not, on average.

The problem with Omicron is that it’s so contagious, therefore so many people are getting it. If even a small portion of those people feel worse (or die!), the fact that there’s so many people will push up ICU usage.

So, to the OP – my guess is that flu is worse than Omicron, given you have one or the other. That may be true for the unvaccinated, but I’m confident it’s true for the vaccinated.

Well what’s the death rate comparison between the 2?

Average covid death rate per million from Dec 26 to Jan 10 in the US is ~4.5
Average influenzas/pneumonia death rate per million in the US ~1.6

Now Canada has an influenzas/pneumonia death rate of ~1.9 and a covid death rate of ~1.5 recently. Now Canada has a far higher vaccination rate than the US so I suppose you could say that if you’ve been exposed/vaccinated against covid then getting Omicron is about the same as getting the flu. If you haven’t, well then I think it’ll be nasty.

Well, to answer what I think is being asked by the OP, one would have to know what the death rate (and/or hospitalization rate) per infection is. So, for every 100,000 positive flu cases, what is the death/hospitalization rate vs per every 100,000 COVID cases. And that, I don’t know. Are flu stats kept that close? I mean, I’ve been diagnosed with “the flu” by a doctor many years ago, but I had never been swabbed and, honestly, I didn’t really feel all that bad. I am skeptical of his diagnosis. I don’t know if any agency tracked that “positive” diagnosis. (And you have the same problem with COVID. Many COVID cases are unknown. For all I know, I may well have had COVID – I’ve had a number of sniffle and light cough incidents in the past two months, but the one COVID test I took came back negative. My kids have had a couple of PCRs for the same thing, but negative, in their case, although some symptoms returned later for which they were not tested. But their symptoms are par for the course during wintertime.)

It really does depend on both.

I’ve had the flu twice (that I know of). One time it was bad - not quite hospital bad but still bad and I had been vaccinated. The other, I only got tested because I had something and people at the office were saying the flu was going around.

And the annual statistics bear this out - some years nearly 100k Americans die from the flu. Others, hardly 20k. And that’s a ‘normal’ range. For a particularly bad year, it can be higher.

The ‘likeliness’ of Omicron being better or worse than the flu requires a baseline for comparison that we don’t have for either the flu or Omicron.

I’m afraid my original question probably has a complex answer.

First, the “badness” is a distributed variable. That is, some people quickly die, some people never notice symptoms, and many people are somewhere in between. Each disease produces a distribution of severity, not a single value. “Worse” would be much more simply answered if both distributions were similarly wide but they were relatively displaced, but I don’t know if that’s true. It’d be great to see two distribution curve graphs with “badness” on the horizontal axis. But, there’s not just one single measurable “badness” variable, so maybe a practically ideal answer would be percentages for “no symptoms”, “mild”, “severe enough to want to stay in bed”, “hospitalized”, “intubated”, and “death”. Something like that.

Second, apparently outcomes depend strongly on vaccination status, so perhaps we’d need to show different distributions for the different levels of vaccination, and maybe the different vaccines.

But this all supposes we have complete information. Many people have these diseases but never have tests confirming them, many cases aren’t reported, and on and on.

Flu is worse than colds. I guess I know this, but am not sure how. Maybe there’s not much better answer for my question.

I think I’ve been swabbed to be tested for flu once in my life. I don’t really have any idea if having the influenza virus is worse than having one of the many cold viruses out there, because if I had a mild flu, I would probably just call it a cold. Similarly, if I had a very bad cold, I might call it the flu.

I think of cold symptoms as being congestion, runny nose, maybe a sore throat, and flu symptoms as being fever, achy, and fatigue. Honestly, I don’t even know if a flu could have the same symptoms as a cold and vice versa.

Yes, asymptomatic influenza is commonly estimated to account for about one in three cases. Light/mild symptomatic cases would be some percentage on top of that.

Speaking personally, info: 57, unvaxxed got sick last week.

I’d place the actual symptoms while sick as less then a cold. Worst was fatigue.

Lasting ones: I think I fucked up my system taking too much ibuprofen. All food sounds blah. (Taste and smell were unaffected) and it makes me feel crappy when i eat. Which IMHO means i messed up my blood chemistry. It’ll sort itself out and I can stand to lose some weight

Weird symptom: My difficulty urinating i’ve had for years has sorted itself out. Weird. Anyone have any ideas Im all ears on that.

That was my experience, too. I don’t know if it was Omnicron, but it seems likely it was. I was exhausted for 3 days, and sick for several more. Bad chills. Fully vaxxed and boosted.

I got the swine flu in 08. This was about the same, except it was a slow burn. Didn’t have thay “hit with a truck” experience that is so distinctive with flu.

52, Diagnosed last monday, still testing positive as of yesterday. Fully Vaxxed and boosted 11 days prior to catching it.

It was a 2 on a scale of 1-10…upper respiratory, sinus draining, light muscle pain that responded well to ibuprofen.

The neighbor has it, he’s on day 8, and it layed him flat. Fully vaxxed but not boosted.

It’s a crapshoot, it is CRAZY infectious, and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people that go back out feeling fine and infecting like crazy…5 days and back to work, test not necessary is irresponsible.

Covid, of any strain, is hugely variable. It’s got a very high chance, probably over 50%, of being completely asymptomatic, which makes it look much milder than any flu strain… but it also has a higher chance of causing death. And of course, that high asymptomatic rate is part of the reason why it spreads so easily: People who feel crappy generally try to avoid people, or if they can’t, at least try to take extra measures to prevent spread, but people who feel just fine keep going about their normal routine.

My wife’s niece, who is a very conscientious intensive care nurse, vaccinated and boosted, wearing nothing short of an N95 all the time, is now recovering from omicron contracted from her thoughtless family. We spoke with her, and she (between coughing fits) told us her throat feels like it’s full of broken glass and that she is exhausted. She’s taking Theraflu, baby aspirin, Tylenol and doing fluids, but recovery is slow. So yeah, I’d say it’s worse than flu.

AFAICS it depends greatly on your vaxx status:
Unvaxxed teen at same risk of hospitalisation as triple-vaxxed person in 80s

FWIW I’m just getting over Omicron, as a double-vaxxed person. It’s been wearing and at times painful (yes, the throat full of broken glass as called out above, hacking cough, and headaches), but in my case not as bad as the real flu. My partner’s case was worse, she was laid out for 2 days, and lost her smell and taste (they are just struggling back now), but probably still not up to real flu status.

That said, I suspect what many people call ‘the flu’ is really just a bad cold. The real flu puts you in bed or in hospital for a week or two.

Sometimes. But has been mentioned before, there ARE times people have asymptomatic and low-symptomatic flu. The worst flu is absolutely worse than the worst cold, but bad colds can be worse than medium flus. And the COVID variants have similar range.

I’ve had diagnosed flu and been really sick for 3 days and sorta sick for another 3 or 4, but I wasn’t in bed for a week. It was still flu.

It depends on more than just vaxx status as far as I can tell. Maybe underlying conditions, maybe just luck, I’m not sure. But it’s been running through my family for the past couple of weeks ( and there hasn’t been any event where one household could have given it to another ) Everyone vaxxed and boosted - and here’s what happened

  1. Mildly congested - me, and I’m not sure I would have gotten a test if my husband hadn’t tested positive
  2. My sister had fever and muscle aches for a few days.
  3. My husband seemed to have a sinus infection - and probably did have one along with COVID.
  4. My brother had congestion, headaches and muscle aches.
  5. My mother was very congested for a couple of days - but was sleeping around 18 hours a day for a week.

Had the same for 72 hours my throat was so sore I couldn’t get a Tylenol to pass down it , I couldn’t swallow water for 48 hour! I lost 6 pound over 4 days. Now 2 weeks in I’ve regained my weight and feel 85%…The virus was no joke & Thank god it never went to my lungs, I’m vaccinated no booster I’d like think that made the difference.