August 10, 2020

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At left: a colorized electron micrograph image of the influenza virus. At right: color-enhanced electron micrograph image of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

How COVID-19 is different from seasonal flu?

The world is facing another Flu-like outbreak since January 2020. COVID -19 is said to be similar to the seasonal flu as they share common early symptoms and both are related to the respiratory disease.

How is COVID-19 different from seasonal flu?
At left: a colorized electron micrograph image of the influenza virus. At right: color-enhanced electron micrograph image of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

Both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza transmit from one infected to another through droplets in the air that are present from an infected person sneezing, coughing, talking or laughing. Both viruses can infect several healthy people before developing any symptom. The prevention techniques for both illnesses are also the same.

Here are some ways that differentiate COVID-19 from Regular flu:

Caused by 2 different viruses

SARS- COV 2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2) cause COVID-19. Seasonal flu is caused by different types of influenza viruses.

Fatality rate

COVID -19 is far more fatal than the seasonal flu. It has a fatality rate of 1% which is far more fatal than the seasonal flu. The fatality rate of seasonal flu is just 0.1%.  It means it can kill nearly 10 people from 1000 infected whereas the seasonal flu only kills one from 1000 infected.


COVID-19 is more contagious than influenza. Estimatedly every COVID-19 patient infects approximately 2 to 2.5 people that are responsible to infect 2 to 2.5 more on average. Whereas the seasonal influenza patient infects 1.2 people on average. Hence, the number of secondary infections generated from the COVID – 19 is higher than the seasonal flu virus. The dead body of the COVID-19 patient is also contagious just like the dead bodies of the people who die from other contagious diseases.

COVID-19 is contagious

Presymtomatic transmissions

The higher number of Coronavirus infections are related to the frequency of presymptomatic transmission. The people who do not develop any symptom after getting infected infect a large number of people unknowingly.

Also Read: Deadliest viruses present on our Planet


Nearly 80 % of the coronavirus patient develop moderate illness whereas 20% develop a severe illness which is 10 times more than that of the seasonal flu. The rate for severe flu cases is just 1 to 2%.

Incubation period

The influenza virus has a shorter incubation period than the COVID-19. The seasonal flu virus incubation period is 3 days whereas COVID-19 has an incubation period of 14 days.


Seasonal flu virus directly attacks the children, it has been proved in the laboratories that children are important drivers for influenza virus transmission whereas, for COVID-19, elder people and people with underlying health conditions are more likely to be at risk. Whereas, serious influenza infections are dangerous in children, pregnant women, elder people and people with medical issues.

Seasonal flue attack children

Need of oxygen or ventilator

COVID-19 effects are more serious because more than 15% patients require oxygen to breathe whereas 5% adopt critical situation and are put on a ventilator. But flu does not affect a lot even though the effects are similar. Its affected does not require oxygen or a ventilator.



There is no vaccine available for COVID-19. Scientists are working to find a vaccine. There are vaccines available for seasonal flu. The influenza vaccine effectively works on the vaccinated person and controls the spread of disease. This will prevent them from developing serious flu illness.

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