Flu vs COVID19: what's the difference?


E.C | Pharmacist

12/11/20221 min read

Flu and COVID19 symptoms can be quite similar and often it is hard to distinguish between them. This article shows the main differences in symptoms between these two illnesses and how to properly diagnose each of them.

white blister pack on blue surface
white blister pack on blue surface

Main differences:

  1. Causative virus

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is caused by the influenza virus, while COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

  1. Symptoms

Both the flu and COVID-19 can cause fever, cough, fatigue, and body aches, but there are some differences in the symptoms they can cause. COVID-19 can also cause loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, and gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and diarrhoea, which are less common in flu cases.

  1. Contagiousness

Both flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, but the level of contagiousness is different. COVID-19 is generally considered to be more contagious than the flu and spreads more easily from person to person.

  1. Vaccine availability

There are vaccines available to protect against the flu, which are updated each year to target the most prevalent strains. Currently, there are also several COVID-19 vaccines available, which have been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalisation.

  1. Testing

Testing is available for both the flu and COVID-19, but the types of tests used can differ. Rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests are commonly used to diagnose COVID-19, while rapid flu tests and PCR tests are used to diagnose the flu.

  1. Severity

While both illnesses can cause serious complications, COVID-19 has been shown to cause more severe illness and can lead to hospitalization and even death, especially in certain populations like older adults and those with underlying health conditions.