By: Poelano Malema
Winter is almost here and many people are prone to getting influenza (flu) during this time of the year.
To prevent flu, many people take the flu vaccine.
However, the world is also dealing with the deadly coronavirus.
Similarities and differences of COVID-19 and influenza
COVID-19 and flu have similar symptoms such as cough, sore throat, fever, loss of taste or smell, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The two viruses are both contagious respiratory illnesses and are both transmitted by contact, droplets, and fomites.
However, the are also huge differences between the two viruses.
WHO highlights the following:
– Influenza has a shorter median incubation period (the time from infection to appearance of symptoms) and a shorter serial interval (the time between successive cases) than COVID-19.
– The number of secondary infections generated from one infected individual is understood to be between 2 and 2.5 for COVID-19 virus, higher than for influenza.
– For COVID-19, data to date suggests that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen, and 5% are critical infections, requiring ventilation. These fractions of severe and critical infection would be higher than what is observed for influenza infection.
– Mortality for COVID-19 appears higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza.
Benefits of flu vaccine
The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent, reports Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flu vaccines have also been proven to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalisation, and death.
Will getting the flu vaccine protect you from contracting COVID-19?
“Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19,” states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, the health website says getting a flu vaccination is still important.
It says it “will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalisations, and deaths on the health care system and conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19.”
Lastly, the World Health Organisation says: “While the influenza vaccine is not effective against COVID-19 virus, it is highly recommended to get vaccinated each year to prevent influenza infection.”
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