Study: Flu-related deaths higher than previously reported

More people are dying of the flu around the world, according to a recent study.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers and global health partners calculated age-specific death estimates for people younger than 65 years, between 65 and 74, and people over the age of 74.

Experts estimate as many as 646,000 people worldwide have died from the seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year, which is higher than the previous estimate of up to 500,000. The findings appear in The Lancet medical journal.

The great flu mortality burden was seen in the world’s poorest regions and among older adults. Despite the World Health Organization’s recommendation to vaccinate people in high-risk populations, few developing countries have seasonal flu vaccination programs or the capacity to produce and distribute seasonal or pandemic vaccines.

Researchers note these new estimates are limited to flu-associated deaths, so they may underestimate the true global impact of the disease.