Similarities And Differences Between COVID-19 and Flu
COVID-19 and flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses.COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza virus. It may be hard to tell the difference between a flu and COVID-19 because the symptoms are similar so testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Signs and symptoms
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Muscle pain and body-aches
- Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea though this is more common in children than adults.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 that may be different from flu include change in or loss of taste and smell.
- Flu can cause mild to severe illness including the common symptoms listed above .
How long do symptoms appear when you get exposed or infected
- For both viruses, 1 or more days can pass between a person becoming infected and when he or she starts to the experience symptoms.
It could take longer for a person with COVID-19 to show symptoms that a person with flu.
With COVID-19, a person develops symptoms 5 days after being infected but symptoms can appears early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection, and the time range can vary.
A person typically develops symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection.
People at high risk of for severe infection
Both COVID-19 and flu can result in severe illness and complications. Those at high risk include the following :
- Older adults
- People with certain underlying medical condition
- Pregnant women
The risk for complications for healthy children is higher for flu and COVID-19. However infants and children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for both flu and COVID-19.
Young children are at higher risk fo severe illness from flu.
School aged children infected with COVID-19 are at higher risk of Multisystem Inflammmatory Syndrome in Children MIS-C , a rare but severe complication of COVID-19
Both COVID-19 and flu can result in complications including the following :
- Respiratory failure
- Cardiac Injury such as heart attaches and stroke
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome that is fluid in the lungs
- Multiple organ failure respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock
- Secondary bacterial infections that is infection that occur in people who have already been infected with COVID-19 or flu.
- Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissue
- Worsening of chronic medical condition involving the lungs, heart, nervous system and diabetes .
Additional complications of COVID-19 include
- Blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart , legs and brain,
- Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children
Most people with flu recover from a few days to less than 2 weeks but some develop complications.
Vaccines for COVID-19 and flu must be approved or authorized for emergency use (EUA) by the FDA.
- There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. Vaccine developers and other researchers and manufacturers are expediting the development of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
- There are multiple FDA-licensed influenza vaccineproduced annually to protect against the 3 or 4 flu viruses that scientists anticipate will circulate each year.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-disease-2019-vs-the-flu. Accessed September 15th, 2020
Coronavirus vs. flu: Similarities and differences. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-vs-flu/art-20490339. Accessed September 15th, 2020