Seasonal influenza and COVID are often compared to one another as they are both contagious respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms, however, they are caused by different viruses.
COVID is caused by an infection with a new coronavirus SARS-CoV2, whilst the flu is caused by an infection with influenza viruses. However, both of these can be extremely serious illnesses, particularly for those who are clinically vulnerable. Here we look at the differences between COVID and the flu, and how you can best protect yourself and your loved ones from either.
Similar Signs and Symptoms
COVID, the flu and other respiratory illnesses can present with very similar symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, which can make it difficult to determine which one you have.
Symptoms that are common to both COVID and flu include fever, continuous coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, a sore throat, a runny nose, body aches, headache, diarrhoea and vomiting. You can also experience a change or loss in taste or sense of smell with flu, although this is far more frequent with COVID.
As many of the symptoms of COVID, flu and other respiratory illnesses are similar, it is vital that testing is carried out in order to confirm the correct diagnosis and determine the best course of action.
Controlling the Virus
There are many similarities between COVID and the flu. However, it is now evident that if a person has COVID typically symptoms could appear 2 to 14 days after infection. In contrast, a person with the flu will develop symptoms within only 1 to 4 days after contracting the virus.
Consequently, if a person has COVID they are more likely to be contagious for a longer period of time than if they had the flu. This indicates how important a period of isolation is in order to control the spread of COVID.
Older adults and individuals who have underlying health conditions, especially those who are pregnant, have heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are all considered to be at higher risk of developing more serious complications from contracting the COVID virus.
Boost Your Protection
For many years in the UK, we have been offered a seasonal flu vaccine. This is to boost protection against the flu virus which can cause severe illness. The emergence of the COVID virus has sparked much debate about the use of vaccines to protect against the virus. However, vaccine effectiveness studies provide reassuring evidence that the mRNA COVID vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) can help to reduce the risk of contracting COVID and reduce the severity of illness by 90% or more among those who are fully vaccinated.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID, then get in touch today to book a PCR test (the test that is sent to a lab) to check if you have coronavirus. You need to stay at home until you get your result, even if the symptoms are mild. The Mayfair GP is an approved private sector coronavirus testing provider.
We are offering a wide range of COVID and antibody tests including mandatory travel tests for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers. Click here to find out more.