With the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, many have been comparing it to the seasonal flu. If you are wondering if it is the flu or the deadly coronavirus infection that has hit you, it is better to seek medical attention especially if you have the flu symptoms alongside shortness of breath.

While the new coronavirus has caused over 89,000 illnesses and over 3,000 deaths globally, the flu has led to 32 million illnesses and over 18,000 deaths this season, according to the CDC. However, the coronavirus seems deadlier than the flu, especially because there is very little known about the new coronavirus and the disease it causes or how far it will spread. Antiviral medications are, however, being tested to find out if they can address the symptoms of COVID-19.

Similarities between Flu and COVID-19:

  • Both are caused by contagious viruses that cause respiratory illnesses.
  • Though caused by different viruses, they both exhibit similar symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, runny/stuffy nose, headaches and in some cases diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or pneumonia.
  • They can be mild or severe and sometimes fatal in rare cases.
  • They can both spread from a person to another via droplets in the air from infected individuals sneezing, coughing or talking.
  • They can be spread by an infected person even before the symptoms appear.
  • Neither can be treated using antibiotics but can be managed by addressing symptoms. In severe cases, hospitalization and mechanical ventilation might be required.
  • However, both can be prevented by staying home when sick, limiting contact with sick people, coughing into the crook of your elbow, and very importantly, washing hands frequently and thoroughly.

And here are some of the differences between the two we know so far:

  • While flu is caused by several types of influenza viruses, COVID-19 is caused by one virus- the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called the SARS-CoV-2.
  • The new coronavirus seems to be more contagious than the flu. Each infected person can spread it to 2.2 other people, compared to 1.3 reproduction numbers for the flu.
  • COVID-19 might be spread via airborne route- tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause infection in other individuals even after the affected person is no more in the vicinity.
  • Compared to flu patients, those with COVID-19 get pneumonia, even in cases that aren’t severe.
  • There is a vaccine for flu but not for COVID-19 yet.
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