Trump returns to comparing Covid to the flu: 'We have learned to live with it'

President Trump on Tuesday continued to downplay the threat of the coronavirus after his release from the hospital while still under treatment for Covid-19, asserting that the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans is "far less lethal" than the seasonal flu "in most populations".

"Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu," Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning. "Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!"

Across the whole population, though, Covid-19 has been much deadlier. According to data from the US Centres for Disease Control, the worst flu season in the last 10 years was 2017-2018, when an estimated 61,000 Americans died. In 2018-2019, there 34,000 US deaths attributed to influenza. In 2019-2020, there were 22,000.

And comparative fatality figures don't tell the whole story. There is increasing evidence that some number of coronavirus survivors have symptoms including fatigue, cough and cognitive problems that last for months, and organ damage that may be permanent. Those complications generally do not arise in people who recover from the flu.

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Trump returns to the White House
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Trump returns to the White House
US President Donald Trump looks out from the Truman Balcony upon his return to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19, in Washington, DC, on October 5, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump waves upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 05: Marine One lands at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to return President Donald Trump to the White House on October 5, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. The President announced via Twitter early Friday morning that he had tested positive for COVID-19, along with numerous other prominent GOP figures and members of Congress in the last few days. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: U.S. Marine One returns President Donald Trump to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Marine One carrying US President Donald Trump lands at the White House upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19, in Washington, DC, on October 5, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: U.S. Service members wear masks and eye protection before U.S. President Donald Trump' return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 05: Marine One with President Donald Trump fly's over the crowd outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. The President announced via Twitter early Friday morning that he had tested positive for COVID-19, along with numerous other prominent GOP figures and members of Congress in the last few days. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 05: Police keep supporters of President Donald Trump back outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. The President announced via Twitter early Friday morning that he had tested positive for COVID-19, along with numerous other prominent GOP figures and members of Congress in the last few days. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supporters cheer as Marine One carrying the US President leaves Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 5, 2020, to return to the White House after the president was discharged. - Trump announced Monday he would be "back on the campaign trail soon", just before returning to the White House from a hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 5: Marine One arrives outside of Walter Reed National Medical Center to pick up President Donald Trump on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. (Pool photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: A member of the White House cleaning staff sanitizes the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump, several members of his staff, and three members of the press corps have recently tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of the US president gather outside Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 5, 2020. - Trump announced Monday he would be "back on the campaign trail soon", just before returning to the White House from a hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of President Donald Trump rally outside Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where Trump is being treated for COVID-19 on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump wave flags and march on the street prior to the arrival of Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden for an NBC townhall outside of the Perez Art Museum in Miami, Florida on October 5, 2020. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: U.S. Marine One, with President Donald Trump onboard leaves Walter Reed Medical Center, in Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center Monday evening as he is expected to continue treatment for COVID-19 at the White House. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump wave flags as they hold portraits of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outside Japan's prime minister's office ahead of the four Indo-Pacific nations' foreign ministers meeting. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of the US President Donald Trump rally outside of Walter Reed Medical Center to show their support in Bethesda, Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MARYLAND, USA - OCTOBER 5: U.S. Marine One, with President Donald Trump onboard leaves Walter Reed Medical Center, in Maryland, United States on October 5, 2020. Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center Monday evening as he is expected to continue treatment for COVID-19 at the White House. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 5: Supporters of President Donald Trump rally outside Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where Trump is being treated for COVID-19 on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 5: A supporter of President Donald Trump wears a Trump 2020 pin at a rally outside Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where Trump is being treated for COVID-19 on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A supporter of US President Donald Trump waves a flag and protests prior to the arrival of Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden for an NBC townhall outside of the Perez Art Museum in Miami, Florida on October 5, 2020. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of the US president gather outside Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 5, 2020. - Trump announced Monday he would be "back on the campaign trail soon", just before returning to the White House from a hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
A flag held by a supporter of the US president is seen outside Walter Reed Medical Center at sunset in Bethesda, Maryland on October 5, 2020, before the US president was discharged. - Trump announced Monday he would be "back on the campaign trail soon", just before returning to the White House from a hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
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On Monday night, the president returned to the White House after a 72-hour stay at Walter Reed Military Medical Hospital for coronavirus treatment. Since testing positive for Covid-19 late last week, Trump has received an experimental antibody cocktail along with the antiviral remdesivir and the anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone.

In announcing his pending departure from the hospital, Trump tweeted, "don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life." He later posted a video to Twitter doubling down on that message, adding: "Now I'm better, and maybe I'm immune, I don't know." In reality, Trump likely remains contagious, and researchers have not yet concluded whether infection with coronavirus conveys lifelong immunity from re-infection.

As of Tuesday morning, at least 210,196 Americans have died from complications related to Covid-19, none of whom received near the same level of medical care that the president received at Walter Reed.

Trump has long sought to publicly downplay the severity of the coronavirus while privately acknowledging its threat.

In an interview with Bob Woodward on Feb. 7, Trump told the journalist that he knew the virus was "more deadly than even your strenuous flus."

"You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed," Trump said, adding: "This is deadly stuff."

But in a tweet on March 9, the president expressed the opposite view.

"So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu," he tweeted. "It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!"

This was an effort, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany explained after excerpts from Woodward's book appeared, to avoid creating a "panic".

McEnany disclosed on Monday that she, like more than a dozen other people who have been in contact with Trump over the last week and a half, has tested positive for the virus.

Trump faced much criticism on Twitter following his latest flu tweet...

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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