The Difference Between COVID-19 and the Flu
| 4 min read
- Speed of transmission: COVID-19 is considered more contagious than the flu virus, and has been observed to have more superspreading events than the flu. Additionally, if a person has COVID-19, they could be contagious for a longer time than if they had the flu.
- Complications: While there can be complications from both the flu and COVID-19, there are differences. COVID-19, can cause blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart or brain, as well as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children and adults. Additionally, some people may experience "long COVID" -- a range of symptoms that can last for weeks or months.
- Treatments: While there are several antiviral therapeutic medications available to treat the flu, there is only one antiviral agent that has FDA approval to treat COVID-19.
- Virus: COVID-19 is caused by a newly discovered strain of coronavirus, which is called SARS-COV-2. In humans, the flu is caused by two types of virus: influenza A and influenza B. There are subtypes of each. For example, H1N1 is a subtype of influenza A and was responsible for the 2009 flu pandemic.
- At-risk populations: People most at-risk for severe illness from the flu and from COVID-19 are pregnant people, older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions, including infants and children. However, healthy individuals can become severely sick from COVID-19.
- Symptoms: Both COVID-19 and the flu cause many of the same respiratory disease symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and fatigue. However, COVID-19 could also cause a loss of taste or smell.
- Transmission method: Both COVID-19 and the flu are transmitted by droplets through close contact. This can be through large and small particles containing the virus that are expelled when a person who is contagious coughs, sneezes or talks. This means the same precautions will work against both illnesses: frequent hand washing, social distancing and wearing face coverings.
- Available vaccine: There are vaccines available for COVID-19 and the flu.
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