The difference between coronavirus and flu


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COVID-19 and the flu may have similar symptoms and it is only normal to confuse the two.

What are the similar symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu?

COVID-19 and the flu have many signs and symptoms in common, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

COVID-19 and flu complications

Both the disease can lead to serious complications, such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Organ failure
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart or brain inflammation
  • Stroke
  • Death

The differences:


People who suffer from the flu will likely experience symptoms within 1–4 days after exposure, whereas; the symptoms for COVID-19 can develop between 1–14 days.

Severity and mortality

COVID-19 appears to be more serious and claimed more lives than the flu. Both COVID-19 and flu can cause pneumonia and other serious consequences, lung damage is more common in case of COVID-19. It is more deadly than the flu.

For how long can someone spread the virus?

If a person has COVID-19, they could be contagious for a longer time than if they had flu. People suffering from flu are contagious for 1 day before showing symptoms and may remain so upto 7 days. Now, a person remains contagious for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.


The SARS-CoV-2 and the flu virus spread through contact from person to person and are both respiratory illnesses. The virus spreads through droplets or from surface contact. The symptoms of flu appear sooner and there are differences in transmission between children and adults.

While the transmission of the flu from children to adults is common, it appears that in case of SARS-CoV-2 infection it is passed onto children from adults. Children are also less likely to develop symptoms.


As flu has been around much longer than COVID-19, there are several treatment options available and people have no reason to panic when they have flu. Doctors may usually prescribe antiviral drugs in some cases, and flu symptoms will go away in 1–2 days.

There are no antiviral drugs to treat COVID-19 at present.  There are medicines which can reduce your symptoms. The vaccination ensures that your condition is not serious and reduces the chances of hospitalization but does not prevent an infection. For mild cases, a person should isolate at home and stay in touch with a healthcare provider. Antipyretics may be prescribed to reduce the fever. In severe cases, a person may require oxygen supplement or mechanical ventilation if respiratory problems occur.

Recovery period

COVID-19 recovery period is longer than flu. In the case of COVID-19 it could take 4 weeks or more for recovery, while 100 % flu recovery takes only 2 weeks.


The most effective way of staying safe from the seasonal flu is through vaccination. The strains of the virus may vary depending on the season.  The best way to prevent spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus includes habits like washing hands regularly, avoiding touching the face, maintaining safe distance, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, and avoiding crowds. Mass vaccination can prevent the infection from spreading and keep you and your family safe.


Both COVID-19 and the flu are viral infections. Viruses are tiny microbes that survive by invading other living cells. These cells become host cells to the virus, which multiplies inside of them. They can then spread to new cells around the body.

The SARS-CoV-2 causes the infection that leads to COVID-19 and there are two types of viruses that cause the flu — influenza A and B.

Covid-19 and flu symptoms should not be ignored at any cost. Both can cause serious illness and it is important for us all to continue observing COVID protocol to stay away from the flu. A test is a must if you have symptoms. Both these diseases can be asymptomatic and you must take a test if you have been exposed to someone ill. There is no reason to panic because the right treatment can cure both.