Risks assessment and risks comparison are basic concepts for emergency management. In the fields of earthquake engineering and engineering seismology, the operational earthquake loss forecasting (OELF) is the research frontier for the assessment of short‐term seismic risk. It combines seismicity models, continuously updated based on ground‐motion monitoring (i.e., operational earthquake forecasting), with large‐scale vulnerability models for the built environment and exposure data. With the aim of contributing to the discussion about capabilities and limitations of OELF, the study presented aims at comparing the OELF results and the fatality risk (based on fatality data) related to coronavirus 2019 (COVID‐19) that, at the time of writing, is perceived as very relevant and required unprecedented risk reduction measures in several countries, most notably Italy. Results show that, at a national scale in Italy, the COVID‐19 risk has been higher than the seismic risk during the two pandemic waves even if, at the end of the so‐called lockdown, the evolution of the pandemic suggested the possibility (not realized) of reaching a situation of comparable seismic and COVID‐19 risks in a few weeks. Because the two risks vary at a local scale, risks comparison was also carried out on a regional basis, showing that, before the beginning of the second wave, in some cases, the seismic risk, as assessed by means of OELF, was larger than the pandemic one.

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