NHS braced for winter flu and coronavirus – this is how you tell them apart
As the NHS braces itself for a double whammy of coronavirus and the winter flu, experts explain the four main differences between the two viruses.
NHS CEO Sir Simon Stevens yesterday warned you are twice as likely to die if you get the flu and Covid-19 at the same time.
Seasonal flu adapts into a new strain every year, meaning those at risk are urged to get a flu jab annually to ward off the latest seasonal flu, the Mirror Online reports.
There are several similarities between Covid-19 and flu and both can kill – with the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions most at risk of severe complications.
The first difference between the bugs is that no vaccine exists for the coronavirus while the flu gets a new one every year.
Viruses expert Professor Linsey Marr, of Virginia Tech in the US, said the resulting lack of immunity to Covid-19 – which is already more infectious – means that you get "super-spreader" events.
The second difference is in the symptoms.
Both can give you a dry cough but with Covid, it's more persistent.
Flu often causes headaches and a loss of appetite but studies say up to 50% of coronavirus cases are asymptomatic.
Coronavirus symptoms also take longer to show up from when a person is infected – up to 14 days compared to just three with the flu.
Third is how contagious the bugs are. Prof Marr said someone with seasonal flu will spread it to an average of 1.3 other people.
But with the coronavirus, this viral spread is almost double – to 2.5 people.
Another difference is how coronavirus affects and is transmitted in children and adults differently – which isn't seen in the flu.
Experts at King's College London found children display different Covid symptoms compared to adults. Other studies said transmission of the virus is different for kids and grown-ups.
The World Health Organisation has said: "Children are important drivers of influenza virus transmission in the community."
But officials added: "For Covid-19 virus, initial data indicates that children are less affected than adults and that clinical attack rates in the 0-19 age group are low."
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