CALGARY -- A review of Alberta Health data on influenza deaths shows more people have died of COVID-19 in 2020 that died of flu since the 2009-10 flu season.

The reported data showed no more than 562 people died from the flu over the last decade in the province, compared to the 719 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since March.

Protesters angered by public health officials and government responses to the novel coronavirus have commonly claimed tests are falsely identifying seasonal flu as COVID-19.

COVID contrarian

But an immunologist with University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine says that’s impossible.

“There is essentially no way to confuse an influenza virus — which looks completely different genetically and structurely from coronavirus,” says Craig Jenne, who teaches in the department of Microbiology Immunology and Infectious disease at U of C’s Cumming School of Medicine.

“It is a very specific series - not just one - but a series of three genes the virus has,” Jennne says.

“This is a genetic finger print and as a result there is no way to confuse COVID with influenza on these tests.”

As of December 10 there were no reported cases of lab-verified influenza in the province so far this season.