COVID-19 and the flu are not the same

Even with greater than 4.6 million deaths worldwide and 700,000 in the USA, the notion persists that COVID-19 is simply one other flu.

Not true, stated Mark Meeker, DO, vice chairman of Neighborhood Medication at OSF HealthCare. The novel coronavirus often known as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is considerably completely different from influenza.

“It’s a extremely contagious virus, and it’s a a lot deadlier virus in sure populations,” Dr. Meeker stated.

Main variations between flu and COVID-19

It would appear to be the flu and COVID-19 are the identical, however there are three signs extra particular to COVID-19.

There are various similarities between COVID-19 and the flu. Each assault the respiratory system and current the identical kind of signs, akin to fever, cough, sore throat and congestion.

COVID-19 additionally could be marked by respiratory issue, lack of style and scent, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It assaults the respiratory and neurological methods (lungs and mind), in addition to the center, kidneys and different organs.

The flu and COVID-19 differ in further methods.

“When COVID-19 begins to come back on, it could appear delicate,” Dr. Meeker stated. “Then 5 to eight days later, it could actually begin to intensify.

“It tends to create a way more intense inflammatory response within the physique. The virus can overwhelm the system, inflicting blood clotting and scarring. It could actually have some actually long-lasting results, significantly for these people who get essentially the most sick.”

Influenza can overwhelm an individual, too, and even land them within the intensive care unit (ICU).

“In sufferers with COVID-19 and particular danger components or older age teams, we will see weeks on finish of needing ICU care, after which finally, lives are typically misplaced. In these populations, the sickest of the sick have a severity of sickness extra frequent and extreme than what we are inclined to see with influenza.”

Influenza may kill, however the mortality numbers are exponentially smaller than COVID-19 deaths. Dr. Meeker stated an estimated 28,000 Individuals died from influenza throughout the 2018-19 flu season. That’s about 14% of the quantity who died throughout the first six months of the pandemic.

“The 2019-2020 influenza season was like no different in current historical past, with only a few instances, seemingly because of all of the COVID precautions put in place,” Dr. Meeker stated.

Herd immunity takes time

masked husband takes his wife's temperature on the couch with the family dog in their laps

Influenza is contagious and could be lethal, however society at giant is ready to cope as a result of the sickness has been round for a very long time. Dr. Meeker notes the flu pandemic of 1918-20, which killed an estimated 50 million worldwide and almost 700,000 in the USA. Over the previous 100 years, the medical science neighborhood has realized rather a lot about influenza.

Individuals who develop into contaminated with a virus create antibodies that assist them battle off future infections. Vaccines induce an analogous antibody response. The mixture limits the variety of individuals the virus can infect, lowering alternatives for it to unfold. This creates the phenomenon often known as “herd immunity.” There may be additionally good information that exhibits antibodies from immunization reduce the severity of a illness if a vaccinated individual does contract COVID-19.

Dr. Meeker stated the share of the inhabitants buying particular person immunity wanted to succeed in herd immunity is tough to pinpoint, nevertheless it seemingly exceeds 75-80%.

“While you mix immunity that individuals within the U.S. have acquired from an infection and the vaccines that have been launched in late 2020/early 2021, we’re hopefully getting a lot nearer to that herd immunity degree,” Dr. Meeker stated. “However with new COVID-19 variants now circulating around the globe, it’s extra vital than ever to get vaccinated and never take the possibility of ready to develop immunity via an infection.”

Shield your self and your neighborhood

We all know that COVID-19 is very contagious and probably lethal. That is very true for older individuals and people with underlying well being issues. It additionally leaves some individuals with long-lasting well being problems.

And, not like influenza, it may be unfold by contaminated individuals who by no means get signs.

“COVID-19 simply spreads quicker as a result of it could actually,” Dr. Meeker stated. “We’ve got seen that one or two people in a neighborhood rapidly turns into 10 to fifteen, and that 10 to fifteen right into a thousand and so forth.”

In the meantime, as COVID-19 and its variants proceed to march, we’re as soon as once more getting into the flu season.

You possibly can assist decrease the affect in your neighborhood by getting a flu shot and following the fundamental steps to reduce the unfold of COVID-19:

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccination
  • Follow good hand hygiene.
  • Preserve bodily distancing (at the least six toes) when acceptable.
  • Keep dwelling for those who’re sick.
  • Put on a masks indoors when required by state or native authority.

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