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Difference between Coronavirus and Flu

What is Coronavirus (nCoV) and Influenza?

Coronavirus and influenza virus both represent family of viruses. However, Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is far more serious and fatal.

Signs of infection are similar in case of both the viruses. However, coronavirus can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and even death. The worrying part is that there is no vaccine available for coronavirus infection.

What is Coronavirus (nCoV)?

Coronaviruses – that gets its name from ‘crown’ of sugary-proteins were first time reported and identified in the 1960s. But it is still unknown where did this virus come from. In many cases, a coronavirus (CoV) can infect both humans and animals.

Most of the virus (here coronavirus) spread through people who are infected, by shaking hands with them, coughing and sneezing, or by touching things such as doorknobs that infected people have touched.

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza and do not necessarily mean that you have 2019-nCoV. Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. Difficulty in breathing is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

Present state

The present new Coronavirus, also termed as Wuhan Coronavirus spread from the city’s wild and live animal market – mostlystallholders at the city’s Huanan Seafood Market. Around 27 residents showed grave symptoms with a mysterious virus. As of now, the approximate number of confirmed cases globally rises to 4,692, with 6,900 more under investigation. More than 100 infected people have become the victim of this deadly virus. It is spreading to other nations as well like UAE, Australia, Japan, India etc.

After China, Thailand becomes the 1st country to confirm more than 10 cases.

As this novel and fatal coronavirus continues to cross international borders, the WHO (World Health Organization) declared it a public health emergency recently. Since then, the virus is spreading and more than a thousand new cases have been confirmed in China. The virus is spreading by mutating from human-to-human transmission.

The two outbreaks of coronavirus memory are:

The 2002-2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, which spread from China to twenty-six other nations but was contained after 8 months,

The 2009 H1N1 (Influenza A virus) influenza pandemic, which started in Mexico and crossed international borders and spread to other nations globally despite all containment efforts.

What is Flu/ Influenza?

Flu or Influenza is a common viral infection that can be lethal, especially in high-risk groups. It has a tendency to spread quickly from one human to another human. The virus usually attacks lungs, throats and nose.

The virus spreads through airborne respiratory droplets (through sneezing and coughing), by handshakes or hugs with the infected person, by touching a contaminated or infected surface like doorknobs, and by sharing drinks and even kissing.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers are available to give relief with the symptoms. Seasonal flu jab and an annual vaccine can help in preventing the flu and limit its complications.

Difference between Coronavirus and Flu

  1. Definition


It is a novel coronavirus and also termed as Wuhan Coronavirus. It is very deadly and a member of the coronavirus family that has never been reported and encountered before. 


Influenza or the flu is a viral infection of the air passage or the respiratory tract that spreads easily and swiftly from person to person.

  1. Cause


Coronaviruses are a kind of viruses that trigger infection and diseases in birds and mammals.

In humans, infections like common cold and flu are caused by mild viruses. However, rare forms of viruses like the Coronaviruses – SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS‐CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) are the deadly and lethal.

The source of coronavirus has not been identified yet and it is still debatable that how easily it can spread. Coronaviruses has been identified and reported in several different animals, like bats, cats, cattle, and even snakes. This novel virus may be associated to wild creatures from the sea (seafood) and live animal market in Wuhan, China. The market has been reported to be closed after the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus has been reported to be highly contagious and spreads from one to another person easily. A healthy person, if in close contact with the carrier or the infected person gets infected as well.

Like two other types of coronavirus – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) (Outbreak in 2012 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the present Wuhan novel coronavirus also spreads through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes.


Many viruses cause flu. However, the most common culprit virus is rhinoviruses. The flu virus finds its way into the body through your eyes, nose and your mouth. Droplets in the air are the carrier of flu virus and the virus spreads easily when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks.

  1. Types


There are at present 6 recognized types of coronavirus that can cause infection in humans.

These types include:

  • NL63 (alpha coronavirus)

  • 229E (alpha coronavirus)

  • HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

  • OC43 (beta coronavirus)

More deadly and dangerous types of coronavirus include; Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the coronavirus responsible for SARS.


Influenza A – Influenza A virus subtype H3N2

Influenza B – Betainfluenzavirus

Influenza C – Orthomyxoviridae

  1. Vaccine / Treatment


Wuhan new coronavirus has no vaccine available as of now. So, it can be said that there is no treatment available at this stage. It is believed that a vaccine would take at least a year.


Rest, fluids, flu jab, annual vaccination, and antiviral medications, such as zanamivir (Relenza), oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab) or baloxavir (Xofluza) are some of the treatments available.

Summary of difference between Coronavirus and Influenza (Flu)

The points of difference between Coronavirus and Flu have been summarized below:

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  1. Proud of you amita.

  2. This is an absolutely brilliant read. I live in Indonesia and the reactions towards this new virus are mixed. There are official announcements from the government that the country is free of any trace of nCoV, but surface research from social media shows that there are indeed possible cases.

    Fortunately, where I work, in a coworking space, which is definitely an open and public area with people has proven to take measures for hygiene and health precautions.

    What I wanted to know is how insidious the virus is, and if it’s really “too late” when the first symptoms manifested. I hope you can shed some light on this matter.

    Thank you.

  3. I found this summary clearly presented,& probably could be understood by most lay people. As a retired R.N.B.S. I woud be happy to read more material. It seems the general U.S.population+ government are not getting good information about a disease known little about. Ignorance breeds fear + panic..INFORMATION & EDUCATION NEED TO HAPPEN NOW TO SAVE LIVES. J.STOWE RNBS

  4. You mention COV 19 as DEADLY all over the description. As of Feb. 27 fatalities from those patients brought to hospitals is about 3% (2700 deaths out of 80000). The common flu or influenza has a mortality rate of about 7% of hospital cases. Shouldnt you also call influenza DEADLY? Also, most of the deaths from corona virus have occurred among the 60 and over group,while influenza kills over a larger range of ages. Seems like They are both Deadly, but influenza more so?

  5. Influenza can be deadly to certain “risk” groups, such as the very young, elderly & those with reduced immunity (for whatever reason). Is Corona virus also a threat to those groups not normally seen as being at risk?

  6. When vaccine is found for Corona virus will it be labeled a flu?

  7. The second sentence is wrong: “However, Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is far more serious and fatal.”

    You mean “that can develop variations, like COVID 19, that are far more serious and fatal.” Many different Coronaviruses are responsible for most of the common colds experienced and most coronaviruses are mild to asymptomatic.

    Read more: Difference between Coronavirus and Flu | Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.net/science/health/difference-between-coronavirus-and-flu/#ixzz6GaZ8CAnq. Coronaviruses are common cold viruses that are ubiquitous in the population. It is Zoonotic coronaviruses that are the problem.

  8. Sorry, this is absolutely nonsense.
    You’re not telling us AT ALl why the Corona virus is more lethal. What is to be contributed to the lack of preparation, longer incubation period, and faster period rather than the nature of the virus?
    Some statistics and more health issue analysis rather than this newspaper stuff or take down the page

  9. This is ridiculous & sheer NONSENSE, and to call it a “deadly” virus is not even accurate. If it’s “SO DEADLY”, then WHY is it that the MAJORITY of people across almost every age group recover good health within /less than 3 weeks?
    They’re not dead…so if 92% of humans testing positive for it but are completely fine a few weeks later…how can it be called “deadly”. You’re spreading propaganda and irrational nonsense.

  10. What is the possibility of Corona virus mutating within a person who has contracted both Influenza and Corona into something more deadly again..?

  11. Both the corona virus AND influenza viruses are fatal. This is not something that is a difference between to the 2, it is something they have in common. Please reference the CDC for this information.

  12. I am trying to find definitive information as to whether or not any of the flu viruses are a type of corona virus. I have seen it suggested that they can be. Could you please help me with this. Thank you.

  13. Hi,

    This article helps with the early information although few are not correct or subjective such as corona is more deadly than influenza or Wuhan virus
    which sound like politically speaking, not common term used at that time, coronavirus.

    It needs to be updated with more accurate information and data we have now. Dr. Fotedar forgot to list the most deadly influenza outbreak/pandemic that still a lesson for every country which first was recorded in the US, the 1918 Influenza or common known as the Spanish flu (wrong term).


    Scientific research/writing should be objective.

    Best regards,

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References :

[0]Cheng, V. C., Wong, S. C., To, K. K., Ho, P. L., & Yuen, K. Y. (2020). Preparedness and proactive infection control measures against the emerging Wuhan coronavirus pneumonia in China. Journal of Hospital Infection.

[1]Eccles, R. (2005). Understanding the symptoms of the common cold and influenza. The Lancet infectious diseases, 5(11), 718-725.

[2]Huang, C., Wang, Y., Li, X., Ren, L., Zhao, J., Hu, Y., ... & Cheng, Z. (2020). Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. The Lancet.

[3]Hui, D. S., Madani, T. A., Ntoumi, F., Kock, R., Dar, O., Ippolito, G., ... & Petersen, E. (2020). The continuing 2019-nCoV epidemic threat of novel coronaviruses to global health-The latest 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. International journal of infectious diseases: IJID: official publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, 91, 264.

[4]Monto, A. S., Gravenstein, S., Elliott, M., Colopy, M., & Schweinle, J. (2000). Clinical signs and symptoms predicting influenza infection. Archives of internal medicine, 160(21), 3243-3247.

[5]Nishiura, H., Jung, S. M., Linton, N. M., Kinoshita, R., Yang, Y., Hayashi, K., ... & Akhmetzhanov, A. R. (2020). The extent of transmission of novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, 2020.

[6]Rothberg, M. B., He, S., & Rose, D. N. (2003). Management of influenza symptoms in healthy adults. Journal of general internal medicine, 18(10), 808-815.

[7]Image Credit: https://www.scientificanimations.com [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

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