Despite naysayers, the flu is still very active, though numbers appear to be lower due to, at least in part, mask-wearing and social distancing for COVID-19. The overwhelming focus on the pandemic makes it feel like the flu is no longer a problem. Unfortunately, this is not the case and continuing the search for treatments for the flu remains critical for this year and future years when things start to get back to normal.
When comparing the flu and COVID-19, we’re learning more every day about why they aren’t the same and why you should protect yourself against both.
What Makes the Flu and COVID-19 Different?
COVID-19 is a new virus, so there is still a lot we don’t know about it. We know that both COVID-19 and the flu, are contagious respiratory illnesses that spread in similar ways and cause some similar symptoms. Although confusing, there are some distinct differences between them:
- Two types of influenza viruses cause the flu, A and B. COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.
- COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people.
- COVID-19 may take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for a longer period of time.
- The loss of taste and smell, skin rashes, and swollen red eyes some experience with COVID-19 are not typically seen with the flu.
- While the focus is on COVID, let’s not forget that the CDC estimates in 2019–2020 an estimated 38 million people were sick with the flu! This includes 18 million visits to a health care provider for flu, 400,000 hospitalizations for flu, and 22,000 flu deaths.
Dueling Infections and Advancing Flu Research
It is possible to have a simultaneous infection of both COVID-19 and the flu. Understandably, health officials are urging those who can get their flu vaccine this year. Since its discovery in 1933, the list of accomplishments in the way we diagnose, manage, and prevent the influenza virus continues to grow.
Clinical research studies and their volunteers make these advancements possible. Cedar Health Research is seeking participants to join research studies looking into new options for the flu. To see how you can get involved, call us at (214) 253-8170 or visit our website.