Influenza and COVID-19 are infectious respiratory diseases caused by various viruses:
- COVID-19 is caused by a corona virus infection called SARS-CoV-2,
- Flu is caused by infection with the influenza virus.
Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar. For this reason, it is difficult to distinguish between the two, based solely on symptoms, and testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Much remains unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it.
From the information available so far, COVID-19 appears to be spread more easily than the flu and causes more serious complications in some people. In the case of COVID-19, symptoms take longer to appear and people can be contagious for longer.
Signs and symptoms
Both COVID-19 and the flu have a variety of symptoms, mild or severe, and even life-threatening complications.
The common COVID-19 and flu symptoms have in common:
- Fever or fever / chills
- Hard to breath
- Fatigue • Sore throat
- Coryza or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches or body aches
The influenza virus can cause mild to severe illness, with the symptoms listed above.
People with COVID-19 have a wide range of reported symptoms – from mild to severe.
Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, apart from influenza: anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mental status disorders, recent onset of anosmia (loss of smell) or ageuzia (loss of taste) if no cause is identified.
How long after exposure and infection symptoms appear?
In COVID-19 and influenza, symptoms can appear one day after exposure to the virus.
Usually the flu appears suddenly: 1 to 4 days after infection.
With COVID-19, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus – 5-7 days on average.
How long can a person spread the virus?
In both COVID-19 and influenza, the virus can spread at least one day before the onset of symptoms.
If someone has COVID-19, it can be contagious for a longer period of time than if they have the flu.
Older children and adults with flu appear to be most contagious within the first 3-4 days of illness, but many remain contagious for about 7 days.
Infants and people with weakened immune systems can be infected for longer.
How long a person can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 is still being investigated.
It’s possible for people to spread the virus about 2 days before they develop symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms appear. If a person is asymptomatic or symptoms disappear, he or she may remain infected for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.
How the transmission of COVID-19 and flu can spread from person to person, between people who are in close contact with each other:
- Inhalation, through the secretion of drops produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs
- Through close contact with an infected person (touch, handshake)
- By touching a contaminated surface, after that the unhygienic hand is brought to the mouth, nose or eyes.
Covid-19 differences are more contagious among certain populations and age groups than influenza.
The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread quickly and easily to many people and can cause persistent spread between people over time.
People who are at high risk of developing severe disease.
Both COVID-19 and influenza can cause severe illness and complications.
The people at highest risk are:
Most people with the flu are contagious about the day before they show symptoms.
- People with certain comorbidities
- Pregnant women
The risk of complications in healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19.
Infants and children with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk of contracting influenza and COVID-19.
Young children have a higher risk of getting serious illnesses caused by the flu.
School-age children infected with COVID-19 have a higher risk of developing multisystemic inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but severe complication of COVID-19.
Both COVID-19 and influenza can cause complications, including:
- Respiratory failure
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in the lungs)
- blood poisoning
- Heart damage (such as heart attack and stroke)
- Multiple organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
- Chronic worsening of medical conditions (involving lungs, heart, nervous system or diabetes)
- Inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissue
- Secondary bacterial infection (i.e. infection that occurs in people who have been infected with influenza or COVID-19)
Recovery from the flu can take from a few days to a maximum of two weeks. Some people may experience the complications mentioned above.
Additional complications associated with COVID-19 can include:
- Blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, legs or brain
- Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)
Recovery from COVID-19 may take 2-4 weeks.
People who are at high risk of complications or who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 or the flu should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms and complications.
Flu can be treated with prescription antiviral drugs.
The Covid-19 infection treatment protocol was revised, following a proposal by the Ministry of Health’s Infectious Diseases Commission, with support from the ministry’s COVID-19 Scientific Commission.
- People with SARS-CoV-2 infection without symptoms do not need drug treatment.
- Patient monitoring is essential, aggravation of suffering requires a change in the therapeutic attitude associated with the different therapeutic classes used.
- Collaboration between doctors from various fields of medicine is needed to be able to handle the varied / complex manifestations of COVID-19.
- Antiviruses are all the more effective because they are given earlier during the course of the disease, preferably within the first 7-10 days; that is why antivirals are recommended especially in mild to moderate forms of the disease.
- Among the antivirals that can be used, remdesivir is recommended only in the moderate or high severity form (severe / critical form), based on the criteria for availability, efficacy and risk.
These recommendations are periodically reviewed based on generally accepted scientific information from medical forums.
Vaccine developers as well as other researchers and producers are currently accelerating vaccine development to prevent COVID-19. Any vaccine that reaches the EU market before it is available for purchase and use must meet all scientific criteria for safety, efficacy and quality. If a severe side effect is detected, the vaccine will not be available for use in the EU.
There are several flu vaccines, which are produced each year to protect against 3 or 4 strains of the influenza virus, which are thought to circulate every year.
Vaccination of influenza every year is the most effective preventive measure against seasonal flu.
Ideally, vaccination is carried out annually from mid-autumn. Depending on the type of virus circulating each year, flu season runs from October to May.
On December 3, in the anti-influenza immunization program for the 2020-2021 season, the Directorate of Public Health of Neamț received a new phase of the influenza vaccine – 12,800 doses of vaxigrip tetra.
For the 2020-2021 epidemic season, DSP Neamț requests 101,241 doses of influenza vaccine, of which 80,070 doses have been received. The stock at the family doctor and in DSP Neamț was 40,078 doses.
39,992 doses were given. No adverse reactions were reported after vaccination.