Friday, March 13, 2020

Flu & COVID-19: The Six Main Differences Between the Viral Infections

As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread across many countries including the U.S., the outbreak is happening around the same time as another viral illness we all try to avoid this time of year: influenza.

The two viruses share some clear similarities:
  1. Both are spread by contact – If you don’t want to contract either virus, avoid touching or coming into close contact with people who are sick and/or surfaces last touched by those who are infected. Both the flu and COVID-19 are transmitted by droplets from sneezes and coughs from infected patients and high-contact surfaces like door handles and handrails. Wash your hands frequently, use your elbow or a disposable tissue to cover a cough or sneeze, and refrain from touching your face.
  2. Flu and COVID-19 symptoms can be similar – Both influenza and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses that can range in severity. Patients with either illness may experience coughing, fever, and fatigue. If left untreated, mild cases can lead to pneumonia, which can be fatal. 
Knowing that the flu and COVID-19 are illnesses that spread easily, it may at first seem confusing to know which illness you may have if you feel ill. However, there are notable differences between the two viruses, according to a recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

  1. The flu spreads faster than COVID-19 – The flu has a shorter incubation period than COVID-19, which means a shorter time from when a person is infected to the time the first diagnosable symptoms start to show. It can take up to three days for the flu to spread from person to person, whereas COVID-19 takes five to six days to spread from person to person. Because of the flu’s fast spread, vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems are more likely to get the flu.
  2. COVID-19 is more contagious than the flu – According to WHO, a person infected with COVID-19 can be contagious 24 to 48 hours before showing signs of symptoms. A person carrying the flu could be contagious longer – three to five days – before symptoms appear.
  3. COVID-19 can lead to more secondary infections – While both illnesses are nothing to take lightly, COVID-19 can result in two or more secondary infections. WHO data highlights that 80% of COVID-19 infections are mild (like the common cold) or the person has no symptoms, but 15% are severe cases requiring oxygen, and 5% of cases require intensive care. Flu cases sometimes lead to a secondary infection like pneumonia, but patients hardly ever suffer from two or more infections after having the flu.
  4. Adults are more likely to contract COVID-19 – Elderly people, especially those with chronic conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, are the most susceptible to contracting COVID-19. WHO reports that children, from newborn to age 19, aren’t as affected by the virus as adults are. Children are more prone to getting the flu and spreading it to others.
  5. COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu – Make no mistake, both illnesses can be deadly. But the mortality rate for this coronavirus (the number of reported COVID-19 cases divided by the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19) is greater, ranging from a 3% to 4% death rate. (It may be lower due to many unreported cases.) In contrast, the flu’s death rate is 0.1%.
  6. There isn’t a cure or vaccine for the COVID-19 – While there isn’t a definitive cure for COVID-19, researchers are developing more than 20 COVID-19 vaccines. However, flu vaccines are widely available and strongly encouraged by physicians and other medical professionals, not only for individuals to protect the person getting the shot, but also to prevent or limit community-wide outbreaks.
Understanding the main similarities and differences between the flu and COVID-19 is essential to protect yourself from both viruses during the current health crisis.


The All England Practice said...

Corona symptoms ARE like flu-fever, cough, sore throat, wheezing.

You can take advise of Family Medicine Consultant.

MAYA KHAN said...

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