Everywhere we go today, people are talking about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and expressing concern about ‘how bad it might get’. Scientists and health professionals still do not have all the information they need, nor is there a vaccine
yet developed for this virus.
It is necessary that clear and factual information is shared so that each of us can better understand risk, prevalence and prevention.
Coronavirus and the Flu (A & B) have some similarities and some differences
that are valuable to know. The below information provides the updated information from both the CDC and John Hopkins.
Similarities: COVID-19 and the Flu
- Both cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue; sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
- Can be mild or severe, even fatal in rare cases.
- Can result in pneumonia.
- Both can be spread from
person to person through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking.
- A possible difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route (see details below under Differences).
- Flu can be spread by an
infected person for several days before their symptoms appear, and COVID-19 is believed to be spread in the same manner, but we don’t yet know for sure.
- Neither virus is treatable with antibiotics,
which only work on bacterial infections.
- Both may be treated by addressing symptoms, such as reducing fever. Severe cases may require hospitalization and support such as mechanical ventilation.
Differences: COVID-19 and the Flu
COVID-19: Caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.
Flu: Caused by any of several different types and
strains of influenza viruses.
While both the flu and COVID-19 may be transmitted in similar ways (see the Similarities section above), there is also a possible difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne
route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.
COVID-19: Antiviral medications are currently being tested
to see if they can address symptoms.
Flu: Antiviral medications can address symptoms and sometimes shorten the duration of the illness.
COVID-19: No vaccine is available at this
time, though it is in progress.
Flu: A vaccine is available and effective to prevent some of the most dangerous types or to reduce the severity of the flu.
81,322 cases worldwide; 59 cases in the U.S. as of Feb. 26, 2020.
Flu: Estimated 1 billion cases worldwide; 9.3 million to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year.
2,770 deaths reported worldwide; 0 deaths in the U.S., as of Feb. 26, 2020.
Flu: At least 16,000 people have died and 280,000 have already been hospitalized during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 26 million Americans have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms.
(Please note that the data was last updated on Feb. 26, 2020 and will change based on new cases and outcomes. Check with national
news and/or CDC for updates.)
PREVENTION, PREVENTION, PREVENTION:
Both may be prevented by:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom;
before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the
- Limiting contact with people who are ill.