Is COVID-19 like the Spanish flu? – healing practice

SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza: Comparison of Autopsy Reports

The COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is often compared to the real flu caused by influenza viruses. A Swiss research team has now examined what similarities the two diseases have in common and how they differ. To do this, the team analyzed autopsy reports from victims of the Spanish flu from 1918 and 1919 and compared them with current COVID-19 autopsies.

Researchers led by Professor Dr. Holger Moch, Director of the Institute for Pathology and Molecular Pathology at the University Hospital Zurich, evaluated 411 autopsy findings from those affected who died from influenza A between May 1918 and April 1919 – better known as the “Spanish flu”. The data obtained were compared to 75 current autopsy reports from the coronavirus pandemic. The results of this comparison were recently published in the “Journal of Patholohy“Published.

Limping comparison

As “Spanish flu“Well-known influenza pandemic raged in the years 1918 and 1919. The disease killed many around 50 million people. Influenza is often compared to COVID-19. At first glance, this seems obvious – both diseases have similar routes of infection and the symptoms of mild and moderate courses are similar. But the “comparison is not right”, writes the pathologists in their current study.

Influenza doesn’t cause blood clots

As Professor Moch points out, none of the 411 influenza autopsy reports mention the presence of blood clots. In contrast, pulmonary artery thrombosis or pulmonary embolism was found in 36 percent of the COVID-19 autopsies examined.

COVID-19 often leads to vascular inflammation

According to the researchers, this relationship is in line with current studies, which suggest that COVID-19 can often lead to generalized inflammation of the endothelium of the blood vessels and thus to increased blood clot formation. This explains the many cases of pulmonary embolism that occur in patients who do not show any risk factors for thrombosis.

Major differences between flu and COVID-19

The researchers were able to determine without a doubt that people affected by COVID-19 develop progressive and life-threatening pneumonia more often than people with influenza. In addition, significantly more thromboembolic events can be observed with COVID-19 than with the flu. According to the study, blood clots in the finest vessels, so-called capillary microthrombi, occur more frequently in COVID-19 than in infuenza diseases.

Search for test subjects

Based on these and other study results, a research team headed by Professor Nils Kucher, Director of the Clinic for Angiology at the University Hospital Zurich, would now like to test the safety and effectiveness of blood thinners to prevent blood clots in outpatients due to a coronavirus infection be treated. For this purpose, the team is looking for additional test persons aged 50 and over who recently tested positive for the virus (Contact information here). (vb)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Nina Maria Burkhard‐Koren, Martina Haberecker, Umberto Maccio, et al.: Higher prevalence of pulmonary macrothrombi in SARS‐CoV‐2 than in influenza A: autopsy results from ‘Spanish flu’ 1918/1919 in Switzerland to Coronavirus disease 2019; in: Journal of Patholohy, 2020,
  • University Hospital Zurich: “Spanish flu” and SARS-CoV-2: comparable or not? (published: 11/18/2020),

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


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