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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Comparing and contrasting the influenza virus and coronavirus


According to a study published in the Lancet, less than 10% of Americans have antibodies to the new coronavirus, suggesting that the U.S. is further from herd immunity than previously thought. Photo by quapan / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

With COVID-19 cases now on the rise across the United States, worries of flu season have also come up, especially with it being right around the corner. Their striking similarities may be hard to distinguish from each other; however, a few telltale signs can easily differentiate them.

Both COVID-19 and influenza are contagious respiratory illnesses, meaning they affect your lungs and breathing. These illnesses share some symptoms; however, they are caused by two very different viruses. 

Similarities between them include coughs, fever, body aches and diarrhea, to name a few. It is also important to know that these symptoms can be mild or severe and could be fatal in rare circumstances. These fatalities are especially prevalent with people who have underlying conditions or are elderly.

The modes of transmission for both of these viruses are strikingly similar as well. The main type of transmission involves droplets that come from coughing and sneezing, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. They can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then your face. The coronavirus, however, can spread more easily and quickly compared to the flu. 

RELATED: Antiviral drug remdesivir becomes first approved treatment for COVID-19

Therefore, wearing basic personal protective equipment is a necessity to help prevent people from getting sick. Basic usage of face masks and hand sanitizer can easily help prevent anyone from contracting either illness. Staying home and quarantining is the best way of containing these illnesses. 

It may also take days to know if someone has contracted either illness since it takes time for the illness to “kick in” and for symptoms to start showing, known as the incubation period. During this time, infected individuals are also prone to spreading both illnesses without even knowing it. 

Both of these illnesses can work in tandem with one another, especially if someone had already contracted the coronavirus. According to the Mayo Clinic, “COVID-19 can cause different complications from the flu, such as blood clots and multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.”

Finally, the mortality rate of both illnesses drastically differs from each other, with the coronavirus being almost 20 times deadlier than that of the flu season. However, data is always changing, so the comparison of mortality rates is constantly changing between both illnesses.

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