Comparing clinical characteristics of influenza and common coronavirus infections using electronic health records

Dadong Li, Donna M. Wolk, Michael N. Cantor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: We compared outcomes in inpatients and outpatients, pre-COVID-19, who were infected with either coronavirus or influenza. Methods: Using deidentified electronic health records data from the Geisinger-Regeneron partnership, we compared patients with RT-PCR-positive tests for the 4 common coronaviruses (229E, HKU1, NL63, OC43) or influenza (A and B) from June 2016 to February 2019. Results: Overall, 52 833 patients were tested for coronaviruses and influenza. For patients ≥21 years old, 1555 and 3991 patient encounters had confirmed positive coronavirus and influenza tests, respectively. Both groups had similar intensive care unit (ICU) admission rates (7.2% vs 6.1%, P =. 12), although patients with coronavirus had significantly more pneumonia (15% vs 7.4%, P <. 001) and higher death rate within 30 days (4.9% vs 3.0%, P <. 001). After controlling for other covariates, coronavirus infection still had a higher risk of death and pneumonia than influenza (odds ratio, 1.64 and 2.05, P <. 001), with no significant difference in ICU admission rates. Conclusions: Common coronaviruses cause significant morbidity, with potentially worse outcomes than influenza. Identifying a subset of patients who are more susceptible to poor outcomes from common coronavirus infections may help plan clinical interventions in patients with suspected infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1879-1886
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Common coronavirus
  • Electronic health records
  • Epidemiology
  • Influenza

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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