Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. After COVID-19 vaccination: Is it OK to visit with friends and loved ones? This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date. People at Increased Risk of COVID-19 Severe Illness. But COVID-19 cases in the United States are still steadily increasing. Two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use by the FDA under an EUA. Based on case fatality rate (CFR) only, it can be said that Covid-19 is not any deadlier than the flu. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. How to safely go to your doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. The reason for this, infectious disease experts say, lies in how similarly COVID-19 and the flu are transmitted and, therefore, prevented. How COVID-19, flu, cold, and allergies manifest and progress. These are the viruses we experience during our annual flu season. Typically, a person develops symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection. Learn more about how to protect yourself and others from flu this season. Flu symptoms usually appear about one to four days after exposure. Most people with flu are contagious for about 1 day before they show symptoms. The flu vaccine doesn't protect you from getting COVID-19. AskMayoExpert. COVID-19: Adult. 2020; doi:10.1126/science.abd2220. In other words, the flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID-19. The diseases can also cause no symptoms or mild or severe symptoms. COVID-19 and the flu are both contagious respiratory diseases caused by viruses. The typical symptoms of flu are relatively consistent – fever, cough and muscle aches. Coronavirus: What is it and how can I protect myself? Flu. But through closer comparison, they can affect people differently. The seasonal flu virus and SARS-CoV-2 can present with similar symptoms: both seasonal influenza strains (flu A and flu B) and SARS-CoV-2 are contagious viruses that cause respiratory illnesses in humans. COVID-19 vs. the flu: What to know COVID-19 and the flu both cause respiratory illness and the symptoms can be very similar. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance (accessibility) on other federal or private website. Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website. 2020; doi:10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e182. All rights reserved. Mayo Clinic offers flu shots in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. It is a new strain of coronavirus (the term corona means crown ) responsible for causing a pandemic of serious respiratory problems that started in … Accessed July 20, 2020. Influenza Surveillance Report (FluView), Past Flu Seasons Flu Forecasting Accuracy Results, Tools to Prepare Your Practice for Flu Season, Information for Clinicians on Influenza Virus Testing, Multiplex Assays Authorized for Simultaneous Detection of Influenza Viruses and SARS-CoV-2, Information on Collection of Respiratory Specimens for Influenza Virus Testing, Information for Clinicians on Rapid Diagnostic Testing for Influenza, Information on Rapid Molecular Assays, RT-PCR, and other Molecular Assays for Diagnosis of Influenza Virus Infection, Algorithm: Interpreting Influenza Testing Results When Influenza is Circulating, Algorithm: Interpreting Influenza Testing Results When Influenza is NOT Circulating, Guide: Influenza Diagnostic Testing in Closed Setting Outbreaks, Guidance: Standard-Based Electronic Laboratory Reporting, Guidance: Antiviral and Obstetric Health Care, Guidance: Outbreak Management in Long-Term Care Facilities, Guidance: Use of Mask to Control Influenza Transmission, Guidance: Prevention & Control in Peri- and Postpartum Settings, Health Professional References & Resources, Responding to Problems with Purchasing Needles for Flu Vaccination, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults, People with certain underlying medical conditions, Acute respiratory distress syndrome (fluid in the lungs), Cardiac injury (for example, heart attacks and stroke), Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock), Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, or nervous system or diabetes), Inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues, Secondary bacterial infections (infections that occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19), Blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, legs or brain. COVID-19 and flu, a perfect storm. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. While COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu. COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, while influenza is caused by influenza A and B viruses. Both Spanish flu and COVID-19 manifest as "influenza-like illnesses," with fever, muscle aches, headache, and respiratory symptoms most common, Dr. … These viruses can also spread if a person touches a surface with one of the viruses on it and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes. That is one of the biggest differences between the two right now: A flu vaccine exists, whereas a COVID-19 vaccine does not. Unlike the flu and coronavirus (COVID-19), which are both respiratory viruses, strep throat is a bacterial infection. Both are spread mainly by droplets made when people with the illness (COVID-19 or flu) cough, sneeze, or talk. Also, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than flu. Other vaccines to prevent COVID-19 are still under development. Any use of this site constitutes your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy linked below. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Swine flu was a novel influenza A (H1N1) virus that emerged in the spring of 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illnesses in some people. But coronavirus has killed at a much faster rate. How Flu Spreads           How COVID-19 Spreads. People who have the flu may be more likely to experience nasal congestion and a productive cough than those with COVID-19. Caliendo AM, et al. Journal of Korean Medical Science. Learn more about how the flu and COVID-19 differ. COVID-19 (also termed the Wuhan coronavirus, 2019 novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, and others) is a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA coronavirus. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Mayo Clinic's single, streamlined process for patients being tested for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, Coronavirus vs flu Similarities and differences, Advertising and sponsorship opportunities, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Nausea or vomiting, but this is more common in children than in adults, Avoiding large events and mass gatherings, Avoiding close contact (within 6 feet, or 2 meters) with anyone outside your household, especially if you have a higher risk of serious illness, Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, Wearing a cloth face mask when you're in public spaces, such as the grocery store, where it's difficult to avoid close contact with others, Covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics and counters, daily. It’s possible for people to spread the virus for about 2 days before experiencing signs or symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms first appeared. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website. Accessed Dec. 21, 2020. Accessed Nov. 9, 2020. Symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu appear at different times and have some differences. Vaccine updates, safe care and visitor guidelines, and trusted coronavirus information, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Mayo Clinic School of Continuous Professional Development, Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, Coronavirus vs. flu: Similarities and differences. Alberta Health Services has highlighted some of the differences as well, noting that sneezing appears to be more common with colds rather than the flu or COVID-19. Mayo Clinic does not endorse any of the third party products and services advertised. Track the latest COVID-19 trends on the U.S. coronavirus map. These are also common in COVID-19, but it’s become clear as the pandemic has progressed that COVID-19 symptoms vary more wildly than those of the flu – from no symptoms at all in some 45 percent of cases to deadly pneumonia and myriad cardiovascular and neurological issues, said Chin-Hong. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have heard that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is similar to the flu (influenza). Nov. 10, 2020. Accessed Dec. 9, 2020. Social distancing against COVID-19: Implication for the control of influenza. COVID-19 Is Deadlier Than The Flu. Both COVID-19 and flu can result in complications, including: Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications. Both the flu and COVID-19 are spread in similar ways – through contact and respiratory droplets, for example sneezing, coughing, or talking, says Shah. Accessed July 20, 2020. While the flu can be dangerous and deadly, COVID-19 has been significantly more fatal this year. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I sense confusion ahead. Estimated influenza illnesses, medical visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States — 2019–2020 influenza season. Record numbers of Covid-19 cases are being confirmed across the UK. Find out what to know and how to protect yourself from these diseases. People at High Risk for Flu Complications. COVID-19 vs. the flu: What’s the difference between these two viruses? Also, since the flu has been around much longer, doctors know more about how to treat and prevent it, while they continue to learn more about COVID-19. Coronavirus (COVID-19). And in just eight months, Covid-19 has killed more people than the flu did during the last five flu seasons combined. The answer: it depends on your age, and also your assumptions about how deadly COVID-19 will turn out to be. Many people with the flu or mild symptoms of COVID-19 can recover at home with rest and fluids. The US death toll from coronavirus this year has now exceeded 62,000, surpassing the high-end estimate for flu deaths. How Else Do They Differ? Another difference is that the flu can be treated with antiviral drugs. Testing can determine which virus you may have and help guide doctors to the appropriate treatment. COVID-19 and the flu are caused by different viruses. Washer says that in many settings, the only way to tell the difference between COVID and influenza … Flu symptoms are often of rapid onset. https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/emergency-use-authorization#coviddrugs. CDC COVID-19 data tracker. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of someone nearby or be inhaled. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily and leads to a more serious illness than the flu. Safe cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cancer treatment during COVID-19: How to move ahead safely. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. For both COVID-19 and flu, it’s possible to spread the virus for at least 1 day before experiencing any symptoms. Some drugs may help reduce the severity of COVID-19. COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the flu have many similarities and differences. If this happens, people could become ill with one or both diseases at the same time. Additional complications associated with COVID-19 can include: People at high-risk of complications or who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 or flu should receive supportive medical care to help relieve symptoms and complications. Researchers are evaluating many drugs and treatments for COVID-19. So far in 2020, more than 16 million people have had COVID-19 in the U.S. More than 290,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. in 2020. If a person has COVID-19, they may be contagious for a longer period of time than if they had flu. COVID-19 and the flu cause similar symptoms. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2019-2020.html. With both seasonal flu and coronavirus hitting their peak right about now, it’s important to know the signs of each illness. The viruses spread through respiratory droplets or aerosols released through talking, sneezing or coughing. Figuring out if you have COVID-19 vs. the flu can be a challenge. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces? Symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu appear at different times and have some differences. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With COVID-19, you may experience loss of taste or smell. For COVID-19, it's 175 per 100,000 . The vaccine can be given as a shot (injection) or as a nasal spray. Mayo Clinic; 2019. This content does not have an English version. Mayo Clinic; 2020. Saving Lives, Protecting People, How long symptoms appear after exposure and infection, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Reconstruction of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Virus, 2019-2020 Preliminary In-Season Burden Estimate, Who is at High Risk for Flu Complications, Who Should & Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated, Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV)/Nasal Spray Vaccine, Selecting Viruses for the Seasonal Influenza Vaccine, Flu Vaccine and People with Egg Allergies, Frequently Asked Questions on Vaccine Supply, Historical Reference of Vaccine Doses Distributed, Hospitalized Adult Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network (HAIVEN), How Vaccine Effectiveness and Efficacy are Measured, What People with a Staph Infection Should Know about Flu, Resources for Hosting a Vaccination Clinic, Overview of Influenza Surveillance in the United States, Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET), Weekly U.S. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed guidance on treatment of COVID-19external icon, which will be regularly updated as new evidence on treatment options emerges. Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. To receive weekly email updates about Seasonal Flu, enter your email address: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If a person has COVID-19, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu. Vaccines and related biological products advisory committee meeting. COVID-19 (coronavirus) drugs: Are there any that work? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Nov. 9, 2020. They can both spread between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet, or 2 meters). Flu symptoms tend to strike abruptly, whereas those associated with COVID-19 start out mild and gradually worsen. Another important distinction is that COVID-19 symptoms usually appear more gradually than flu symptoms. Studies are in progress to learn more. People who become seriously ill from either disease may need to stay in the hospital at the same time, which could cause the hospitals to become full. The viruses primarily spread in the same ways. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. While some people start showing COVID-19 … U.S. Food & Drug Administration. But given it's also the flu season, how can you be sure whether you have coronavirus, a cold or the flu? A cough associated with the coronavirus tends to be dry. COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer? But some people become seriously ill from the flu or COVID-19 and need to stay in the hospital. COVID-19 and the flu have many signs and symptoms in common, including: The signs and symptoms of both diseases can range from no symptoms to mild or severe symptoms. Here's what makes them different. Coronavirus cases tend to develop more gradually than the flu. 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