According to a CNN.com article written by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while there are similarities between the flu and the coronavirus, there are a lot of differences that should be noted between the two conditions, and the handling of Covid-19 needs to be done differently as well. An overview of both illnesses are offered below:
Symptoms: CNN advises that while the symptoms of Covid-19 and the flu are similar (fever and dry cough), coronavirus can cause difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath (seek medical attention immediately upon these signs). Meanwhile, fatigue, headaches, body aches and the chills occur regularly with influenza, these are fewer common symptoms of coronavirus. With Covid-19, symptoms are gradual, where with the flu, symptoms arise abruptly.
Spread: At this time, it seems that Covid-19 has a faster and farther spread than that of the flu.
Mortality: As numbers are still being compiled, it is hard to truly compare mortality rates when it comes to the flu and the coronavirus. If one takes a closer look, many deaths caused by the flu are due to heart attacks developed due to a weakened resistance from the influenza virus and secondary bacterial pneumonia. Meanwhile, Covid-19 deaths are caused by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) for the most part. Unlike pneumonia, there aren’t treatments for ARDS, and with a shortage of ventilators currently, this makes for a dangerous combination when it comes to those infected by Covid-19.
Vaccine: The flu has a vaccine, Covid-19 does not have one currently, and one may not be available for a minimum of a year.
Immunity: As Covid-19 is a new virus, there is no organic immunity to the illness, whereas, there are some out there immune to the flu.
Children: One silver lining with the Covid-19 is that children up to 18 years of age do not seem to become that ill with the condition. Yes, they can get infected, but fatal infections are quite rare. The flu can become fatal for kids, and approximately 100 kids pass away annual in the U.S. due to the flu.
While most who do get Covid-19 (or the flu) do get better, as 80 to 90 percent of those who are infected with coronavirus have either no symptoms or moderate and mild signs, this is a fatal disease for many. While the pandemic will get worse before we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it will get better; especially if people continue to take proactive action. This too, as they say, will pass.
Social distancing, handwashing, coughing into our arms, refraining from unneeded appointments, and avoiding large crowds are all ways we can work on a personal level to ensure to decrease the spread of Covid-19 within our communities and society in general.