Flu or COVID-19? What are the main differences ©


Influenza and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory diseases caused by different viruses:

  • COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.
  • The flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

Some symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar. For this reason, differentiating between them, only on the basis of symptoms, is difficult and testing is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
There are still many unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it.
According to the information previously, COVID-19 is simply easier to spread than the flu and its more serious complications in some people. In the case of COVID-19, it takes more time until symptoms appear and people can be contagious for longer.

Signs and symptoms

Both COVID-19 and the flu have a wide range of symptoms, mild or severe, and even life-threatening complications.

Common COVID-19 and flu symptoms have common:

  • Fever or fever / chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue • Sore throat
  • Chorizo ​​or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Headache



Influenza viruses can cause mild to severe forms of the disease, with the symptoms listed above.

Cavid -19

People with COVID-19 have a wide range of reported symptoms – from mild to severe symptoms.

Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, other than influenza: anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, impaired mental status, recent onset of anosmia (loss of odor) or ageusia (loss of taste) in the absence of an identified cause.

How long after exposure and infection are symptoms?

In both COVID-19 and influenza, symptoms may occur one day after exposure to the virus.



Usually, the flu is sudden: 1-4 days after infection.

Cavid -19

In COVID-19, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus – on average 5-7 days.

How long can the virus spread?

In both COVID-19 and influenza, the virus can spread at least one day before the onset of symptoms.


If a person has COVID-19, it may be contagious for a longer period of time than if they had flu.


Older children and adults with flu are the most contagious in the first 3-4 days of illness, but many remain contagious for about 7 days.
Infants and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious even more.

Cavid -19

How long can the virus that causes COVID-19 be spread?

It is possible for people to spread the virus about 2 days before they show symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after the signs or symptoms. If someone is asymptomatic or his symptoms disappear, he may remain contagious for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.

As it spreads both COVID-19 and the flu can spread from person to person among people who are in close contact with each other:

  • Breathe, through secretion drops formed when the infected person sneezes or coughs
  • By close contact with the infected person (touch, handshake)
  • By touching contaminated surfaces, after which unhygienic hands are taken to the mouth, nose or eyes.

Differences COVID-19 is more contagious between certain populations and age groups than influenza.

The virus that is COVID-19 can spread quickly and easily to many people and can lead to a constant spread among people as time goes on.

People at high risk for severe illness.

Both COVID-19 and influenza can lead to severe illness and complications.

The people with the highest risk are:

Most people with flu are contagious about a day before they show symptoms.

  • Older
  • People with certain comorbidities
  • Pregnant women


The risk of complications for healthy children is higher for the flu compared with COVID-19.
Babies and children with underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk for both influenza and COVID-19.


Young children have a higher risk of serious illness caused by flu.

Cavid -19

School-aged children infected with COVID-19 have a higher risk of multisystemic inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but severe complication of COVID-19


Both COVID-19 and influenza can lead to complications, including:

  • Germany
  • Respiratory failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ie fluid in the lungs)
  • Septicemia
  • Heart damage (eg heart attack and stroke)
  • Multiple organ failure (respiratory failure, renal failure, shock)
  • Aggravation of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, nervous system or diabetes)
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissue
  • Secondary bacterial infections (ie infections that occur in people who have been infected with influenza or COVID-19)



Recovery from the flu can take from a few days to a maximum of two weeks. Some people may develop the complications above.

Cavid -19

Additional complications associated with COVID-19 can be:

  • Blood clots in the veins and arteries of the lungs, heart, feet or brain
  • Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome In Children (MIS-C)

Recovery of COVID-19 may take 2-4 weeks.

Approved treatments

People at high risk for complications or who are hospitalized for COVID-19 or flu should receive supportive care to relieve symptoms and complications.



The flu can be treated with prescription antiviral drugs.

Cavid -19

The protocol for the treatment of Covid-19 infection has been revised, following the proposal of the Infectious Diseases Commission of the Ministry of Health, with the support of the COVID-19 Scientific Commission of the Ministry.

Basic recommendations:

  • The person with asymptomatic SARS-COV-2 infection does not need drug treatment.
  • Patient monitoring is extremely important, the aggravation of suffering requires changes in therapeutic attitudes to different therapeutic classes.
  • Collaboration between physicians from various medical specialties is necessary to take care of the varied / complex manifestations of COVID-19.
  • Antivirals are more effective than they were administered earlier in the course of the disease, preferably in the first 7-10 days; That is why antivirals are recommended primarily in mild to moderate forms of the disease.
  • Among the useful antivirals, remedesivir is recommended only in forms of medium or high severity (severe / critical forms), based on criteria of availability, efficacy and risks.

The recommendations are periodically reviewed in the light of generally accepted scientific information from medical groups.

The vaccine

Cavid -19

Vaccine developers and other researchers and manufacturers are currently accelerating the development of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Each vaccine that reaches the EU. Market before it is eligible to buy and use, must meet all scientific criteria for safety, efficacy and quality. If severe side effects are detected, the vaccine is not eligible for use in the EU.


There are several flu vaccines, which are produced annually to protect against the 3 or 4 types of influenza viruses, which are expected to circulate every year.

Influenza vaccination each year is the most effective preventive measure against seasonal flu.

Vaccination should be carried out every year from mid-autumn. Depending on the type of virus that circulates each year, the flu season lasts from October to May.

On December 3, in the influenza immunization program for the 2020-2021 season, the Neamț Public Health Directorate received a new tranche of influenza vaccine – 12,800 doses of Waxigrip Tetra.

For the epidemic period 2020-2021, DSP Neamț required 101,241 doses of influenza vaccination, of which 80,070 doses were obtained. In stock, in family doctors and in DSP Neamț there are 40,078 doses.

39,992 doses were administered. No adverse reactions were reported after vaccination.



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