Comparison of two pandemics: H1N1 and SARS-CoV-2

Rev Assoc Med Bras (1992). 2021 Jan;67(1):115-119. doi: 10.1590/1806-9282.67.01.20200584.


Objective: We aimed to compare the clinical, epidemiological, and prognostic features of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 and the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic in 2020.

Methods: This retrospective study involved subjects from seven centers that were admitted and found to be positive for H1N1 or COVID-19 real-time polymerase chain reaction test.

Results: A total of 143 patients with H1N1 and 309 patients with COVID-19 were involved in the study. H1N1 patients were younger than COVID-19 ones. While 58.7% of H1N1 patients were female, 57.9% of COVID-19 patients were male. Complaints of fever, cough, sputum, sore throat, myalgia, weakness, headache, and shortness of breath in H1N1 patients were statistically higher than in COVID-19 ones. The duration of symptoms until H1N1 patients were admitted to the hospital was shorter than that for COVID-19 patients. Leukopenia was more common in COVID-19 patients. C-reactive protein levels were higher in COVID-19 patients, while lactate dehydrogenase levels were higher in H1N1 ones. The mortality rate was also higher in H1N1 cases.

Conclusions: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic is a major public health problem that continues to affect the world with its high rate of contagion. In addition, no vaccines or a specific drug for the benefit of millions of people have been found yet. The H1N1 pandemic is an epidemic that affected the whole world about ten years ago and was prevented by the development of vaccines at a short period. Experience in the H1N1 pandemic may be the guide to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from a worse end.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype*
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2