The year 2020 has been marred by the unexpected onset of a global pandemic. The virus causing all the upheaval was first identified in Wuhan, China in December of 2019. Research found that it was a respiratory and vascular disease known as Coronavirus Disease 2019, which was often shortened to COVID-19. There has been some confusion because many symptoms of COVID-19 and its manner of spreading are similar to other common illnesses like the flu. But similar does not mean the same. Here are the differences between COVID-19 and the flu:


Though the flu and COVID-19 can present similar symptoms, they are different in a couple of ways. First, they stem from different viruses. The flu is caused by a number of different influenza viruses, and COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus (termed SARS-CoV-2). There is also a different amount of time between when symptoms present themselves after infection. COVID-19 symptoms generally appear two to 14 days after exposure. Flu symptoms usually appear about one to four days after exposure. Setting aside the several symptoms that the flu and COVID-19 share (fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, aches and pains) the main different symptoms that COVID-19 has are the change in or loss of taste and/or smell. COVID-19 can also lead to more severe illnesses, but we will touch on that below.


One of the main differences between COVID-19 and the flu is that COVID-19 tends to spread between people more easily. Complicating matters is the fact that, as mentioned above, people are often slower to show symptoms of COVID-19 which means they can be up walking around and spreading the virus without even knowing they have it. This differs from the flu because many people sick with the flu are laid up in bed at home due to the debilitating symptoms, not walking around unwittingly spreading the virus.

The length of contagiousness is longer in COVID-19 (at least 10 days after testing positive) than the flu (7 days). This is one of the main differences between COVID-19 and the two illnesses, and a main reason that the coronavirus spreads easier than the flu.


In addition to its high transmission rate, COVID-19 is more dangerous than the flu. This is because it can lead to severe complications. These include lung injury, blood clots, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. As you might expect, this also means that COVID-19 has a higher mortality rate than the flu. According to the Mayo Clinic, over 9.9 million people have contracted COVID-19 in the U.S., and more than 230,000 people have died from it in the U.S. in 2020. When you compare this to the number of people who have come down with the flu in the 2019-20 flu season (38 million) and the number of people who died from it (22,000), the stark contrast between the two diseases becomes apparent.

Though the numbers may be disheartening, fear not, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. As of this writing, there is currently no available vaccine for COVID-19, but that is not the case for the flu. Flu shots are widely available, relatively inexpensive, and can protect you from the three or four influenza viruses that research suggests will be the most common during the upcoming flu season.

As far as protecting yourself against COVID-19, there are steps you can take and avenues available to you. Socially distancing, wearing masks, and using hand sanitizer are all effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. You can find those products and more at Medical Supply Depot. Whether you are in the market for face masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, or even affordable non-contact thermometers, we have what you need.     




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