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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 – mostly stallholders 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

Coronavirus

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. 

Flu

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

Coronavirus

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.

Flu

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

Coronavirus

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.

Flu

Influenza A – Influenza A virus subtype H3N2

Influenza B – Betainfluenzavirus

Influenza C – Orthomyxoviridae

  1. Vaccine / Treatment

Coronavirus

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.

Flu

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:

Dr. Amita Fotedar -Dr

Research Consultant: PhD in Environmental Sciences at History of working in Elite Research Institutes like United Nations Development Program
Dr Amita Fotedar is an experienced Research Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in elite Research Institutes like United Nations Development Programme, Istanbul, Turkey, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Srilanka.
Skilled in Biological Sciences, Environmental Health, Natural Resources, Water Resource Management, and Renewable Energy, she has a PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Jammu, India. Apart from her PhD, she has a Post Graduate Diploma in International Studies from International Pacific University, New Zealand Campus, and has also been rewarded a certification in Climate Studies from Harvard University (EdX). She is a recipient of Academic Excellence Award from International Pacific University, New Zealand campus. At present she is pursuing MicroMasters in Sustainable Energy from The University of Queensland, Australia.
She is a Co- founder and Research Advisor for a New Zealand based Sustainability and Environmental Services Entity and is also a member of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association at SDG Academy, offering mentorship (a collaborative network of academic and research institutions under the auspices of UN Secretary-General). She has around 35 national and international publications to her credit.
Dr. Amita Fotedar -Dr

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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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