The answer depends on whether you’re looking at the fatality rate (the risk of death among those who are infected) or the total number of deaths. So far, influenza has caused far more total deaths this flu season, both in the US and worldwide, than COVID-19. This is why you may have heard it said that the flu is a bigger threat.
Regarding the fatality rate, it appears that the risk of death with the pandemic coronavirus infection (commonly estimated at about 1%) is far less than it was for SARS (approximately 11%) and MERS (about 35%), but will likely be higher than the risk from seasonal flu (which averages about 0.1%). We will have a more accurate estimate of fatality rate for this coronavirus infection once testing becomes more available.
What we do know so far is the risk of death very much depends on your age and your overall health. Children appear to be at very low risk of severe disease and death. Older adults and those who smoke or have chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease have a higher chance of developing complications like pneumonia, which could be deadly.
Source: Harvard Medical School, USA