Srinagar: The flu
and coronavirus are trending family of viruses these days. Both the virus is
respiratory viruses and human respiratory system is their favourite place of
survival though they can infect many other organ systems. COVID-19 is caused by
one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory
syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. Flu is
caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza
Both the viruses
result in almost similar symptoms and cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue;
sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can be mild or severe, even fatal in
rare cases. Both of viruses can lead to severe pneumonia with respiratory
failure or ARDS.
As far as
transmission is concerned both can be spread from person to person through
droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking.
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
comparing the epidemiology between two viruses on available data, it seems, so
far coronavirus is deadlier and fatal than flu. On average, the seasonal flu
strain kills (case fatality rate) about 0.1 percent of people who become
infected. As far as coronavirus death rate or case fatality rate is concerned,
early estimates from Wuhan China suggest it is around 2 percent. That is case
fatality rate with coronavirus is 20 times more than flu viruses.
So far this flu
season, about 0.05% of people who caught the flu have died from the virus in
the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data.
In the study
published February 18 in the China CDC Weekly, researchers found a death rate
from COVID-19 to be around 2.9% in mainland China. That’s much higher than the
death rate linked to flu, which is typically around 0.1% in the U.S., according
to The New York Times.
Even so, the
death rate for COVID-19 varied by location and an individual’s age, among other
factors. For instance, in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, the
death rate reached 2.9%; in other provinces of China, that rate was just 0.4%.
In addition, older adults have been hit the hardest. The death rate soars to
14.8% in those 80 and older; among those ages 70 to 79, the COVID-19 death rate
in China seems to be about 8%; it’s 3.6% for those aged 60 to 69; 1.3% for 50
to 59; 0.4% for the age group 40 to 49; and just 0.2% for people ages 10 to 39.
Nobody 9 and under has died of this coronavirus to date.
However the rate
could be low if it is assumed that many cases might not have been detected
because they are so mild or even symptom-free. But same stands true for flu
viruses as large number of cases are asymptomatic, mild and self-abortive and
they never seek medical attention or get recorded.
influenza, the coronavirus is most dangerous to people over the age of 65, or
who have chronic illness like diabetes, asthma, COPD, chronic kidney failure,
cancer or a weak immune system.
But for the total
number of people who have been infected by these viruses, it is apparent that the
flu has sickened more people than the coronavirus. In the United States, there
have been 32 million cases of flu, several hundred thousand hospitalizations
and 18,000 deaths, according to the CDC. By contrast, about 70 people in the
United States have been infected with the new coronavirus, and there has been
one death, which was reported.
currently 29 cases of COVID-19 in the US. Still, newly emerged viruses like
this one are always of public health concern, according to the CDC. It’s unclear
how the situation with this virus in the US will unfold, the agency said. Some
people, such as health care workers, are at increased risk for exposure to
The areas where
the two ailments diverge grossly are:
1. There is no
treatment or antiviral for coronavirus. There is no approved antiviral drug for
the coronavirus, but several are being tested. For those infected with any
viral illness, doctors recommend rest, symptomatic treatment to reduce pain and
fever, and fluids to avoid dehydration. For the flu, doctors can offer
antivirals and they tend to work best within a day or two of when symptoms
2. There are no
coronavirus vaccinations available, but it may be available in a year or two.
Flu vaccines are widely available and generally 40 percent to 60 percent
effective. The researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health are in the
early stages of developing one. Officials plan to launch a phase 1 clinical
trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 within the next three months.
In general, the
CDC recommends the following to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses,
which include both coronaviruses and flu viruses:
1. Wash your hands often with soap and
water for at least 20 seconds;
2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
with unwashed hands;
3. Avoid close contact with people who are
4. Stay home when you are sick; and clean
and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
author is a consultant pediatrician and president Doctor’s Association of