Influenza vs. COVID-19

An overview of some of the differences between the COVID-19 outbreak and the Influenza strains


Sruthi Ramesh

The Coronavirus, presently known as COVID-19, was given its name because of the Latin word Corona, meaning crown. The virus itself has spike glycoprotein resembling that of a crown.

Fiona Flynn, Reporter

As the year of 2020 continues on, more and more people are talking about a potential dark storm rolling by the name of coronavirus (COVID-19). It seems amongst the students and people who have taken interest in the virus, the reactions are varied. Some or stricken, resorting to memes and brushing it off as a joke in order to cope with the fear. Others have resorted to saying it is nothing more than the flu. However, that is a very large misconception, for the COVID-19 is not to be mistaken for the common influenza strains. 

Influenza and COVID-19 are eerily similar to each other, victims of both claiming to have fevers, coughing, running noses, a sore throat, and shortness of breath. Both have the effect of weakening the immune system, making a gateway for other potentially fatal diseases and bacteria to enter your body, such as pneumonia.

The transmissions of both viruses have been seen through talking within six feet of another person, sneezing, coughing, as well as touching your facial area and touching another surface. During this time, it is important to be constantly washing your hands, covering your mouth while coughing or sneezing, and to avoid touching your face. 

Neither the COVID-19 or the Influenza can be treated by antibiotics distributed by hospitals and clinics, which are focused on bacterial infections. However, the flu has a vaccination, which helps your immune system produce antibodies to fight the flu virus and later recognize it if it reinfects your system. First developed in 1938 by Thomas Francis and Jonas Salk, the flu vaccine has come a long way, saving the lives of millions since then. 

The influenza virus has been thought to have been carried originally by birds.

The first known occurrence of the flu was thought to be seen no earlier than 1580, beginning in Asia and spreading to Europe and Africa as time moved on. But since then, in all of the days and years leading up to the present time, humans have built up somewhat of an immunity to Influenza. COVID-19 is a new disease, never seen before in humans, making it novel. 

We don’t know how this new virus will behave in the future, unlike the flu which has been studied since the early 1900s. The flu spikes up in the winter and early spring, but eventually dies down within late spring. Our latest influenza strain left the season with a .05% death rate, due to vaccines and being familiar with the virus. However, WHO, the World Health Organization, has confirmed COVID-19 a pandemic with a 3% death rate and this is just the fourth month of its infection. Some health organizations believe that this new virus is infecting at a faster rate than influenza. 

COVID-19 was first sparked in Wuhan, China, some scientists speculate that the first day of infection was December 1st. Health officials believe that the vaccine may not be out for another year. 

As of March 12, COVID-19 has reported 127,863 cases and 4,718 deaths globally. This past year, the influenza strand has an estimated billion cases and around 291,00-640,000 this past year globally. Although the numbers of influenza are painstakingly higher, it has been around much longer than the coronavirus. We still have yet to see COVID-19’s full effects on the world. 

Make sure you as an individual are staying clean and healthy. Be sure to wash your hands consistently before meals and after touching your face or after touching public surfaces.

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