Although the seasonal influenza virus is detected all-year along in the US, the activity of the seasonal flu increases to its peak during the fall and the winter, which means, the transmission is highest between the months of December to February.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 already at its peak and still continuing to spread, it is of utmost significance to know the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu and brace for protection against both as required.
Seasonal Flu and COVID-19: How similar are they?
Firstly, both COVID-19 and seasonal flu affect the respiratory system, i.e., both can show symptoms resonating on levels of asymptomatic and mild, to severe disease and fatality. Secondly, both these viral infections are transmitted by personal contact, i.e., droplets, or saliva on garments and high-touch surfaces. This brings us to the conclusion that the same type of precautionary measures such as Mask etiquette, hand hygiene, and proper disposal of used tissues and masks can prevent the outspread of both seasonal flu and COVID-19.
Differences between COVID-19 and Seasonal Flu
- Incubation & Interval Period: The viral incubation period, or the period between getting infected and displaying symptoms, is shorter for influenza flu. Again, the serial interval period, i.e., the period between two successive infections, is only 2-3 days, while for COVID-19 it is 5-6 days.
- Peak Transmission Hours: Seasonal flu usually gets transmitted in the first 3-5 days with or without displaying symptoms. On the other hand, a person infected with COVID-19 can also shed the virus within 24-28 hours before the onset of symptoms.
- Carriers of Infection: Data shows that children are the most probable carriers of the influenza flu, but for COVID-19, infection in the 0-19 age group is low.
- The population at Most Risk: Children, pregnant women, the immunosuppressed, and the elderly are at most risk for influenza infection. On the contrary, for COVID-19, only that section of the population of older age and underlying chronic conditions are at high risk for severe infection.
- Mortality Rate: The seasonal flu mortality rate is quite low as compared to COVID-19. Reports have shown that the mortality rate for COVID-19 is between 3-4%, while for seasonal flu it is below 0.1%.
Seasonal Influenza Flu vs COVID-19: Treatment Options
The seasonal flu has been around for long before COVID-19, and thus, both antivirals and vaccinations are available for it. Anti-virals have almost always been successful in reducing the symptoms within 2-3 days of intake, while one dose of vaccine annually is enough to keep the influenza virus at bay.
Unfortunately, for the treatment and cure of COVID-19, there are currently no antiviral drugs approved, and vaccinations are still in the trial phases. But there are many ways to reduce the viral load and reduce complications for COVID-19. A regular check of vital signs, intake of Vitamins, practicing norms social distancing and Hygiene etiquettes, etc. are a few tricks to keeping yourself aware and healthy amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic.