When flu season and the coronavirus pandemic occur at the same time in colder months, the world faces additional troubling challenges. Both are viral infections with similar symptoms, making it difficult to know which virus is the cause. Trying to care for patients with both influenza (flu) and COVID-19 could also overwhelm hospitals and healthcare systems.
What are the symptoms that the flu and novel coronavirus share? Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between these contagious viruses, and how to help protect yourself this fall and winter from contracting either one.
7. Don’t Assume the Flu Isn’t a Significant Threat
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expressed his concern for the 2020 flu season in an interview on the JAMA network show Conversations with Dr. Bauchner. “This fall and winter could be one of the most complicated public health times we have.” Dr. Redfield said.
Though not currently as big a threat to human lives as COVID-19, the flu still kills thousands of people every year. How deadly the flu might be each year depends on the severity of the current strain, as well as a population’s high-risk factors for severe illness.
6. Risk Factors of Flu and COVID-19
The CDC states that risk factors for both viruses include advanced age (over 65), pregnancy, and certain pre-existing medical conditions.
High-risk underlying conditions for severe flu symptoms include asthma, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. High-risk underlying conditions for COVID-19 include the following list from the CDC website:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Immunocompromised state (a weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity, with a BMI of 30 or higher
- Serious heart conditions, including heart failure and coronary heart disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus