Coronavirus is not exactly the same as influenza. Here are the differences

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Ricky Joseph

Sore throat and fever: although they may be similar, the new coronavirus is not the same as the common flu, experts stressed.

COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus, proves deadly in about 3.5% of confirmed cases.

While this is not the same as its mortality rate, given that many people may be infected but don't realize it, it is significantly higher than seasonal flu, which typically kills 0.1% of patients.

"There is still considerable uncertainty around the mortality rates of COVID-19 and it probably varies depending on the quality of local healthcare," said François Balloux, Professor of Computational Systems Biology at University College London.

"That said, it's about 2% on average, which is about 20 times higher than for the seasonal flu strains currently in circulation."

READ ALSO : How to wash your hands properly against Coronavirus?

Severe cases

But the real danger of coronavirus is unlikely to be the number of deaths. Experts say health systems can easily become overwhelmed with the number of cases requiring hospitalization - and often ventilation to support breathing.

An analysis of 45,000 confirmed cases in China, where the epidemic originated, shows that the vast majority of deaths were among the elderly (14.8% mortality among those over 80).

But another Chinese study showed that 41 percent of severe cases occurred among those under 50, compared with 27 percent among those over 65.

"It is true that if you are older, you are at a higher risk, but serious cases can also happen in relatively young people without preconditions," said French Deputy Health Minister Jerome Salomon.

Contagion

Disease experts estimate that each person infected with COVID-19 infects two to three other individuals.

That's a reproduction rate up to twice that of the common flu, which typically infects 1.3 new people for every patient.

READ ALSO : How to wash your hands properly against Coronavirus?

Disease experts estimate that each person infected with COVID-19 infects two to three other individuals.

Vaccine/treatment

Salomon said humans have lived with the flu for more than 100 years.

"We've studied it closely," he said. "This new virus resembles the flu in terms of physical symptoms, but there are huge differences."

The number one difference is the lack of a vaccine against COVID-19, or indeed any treatment shown to be consistently effective.

While some trials have shown promise for administering antiretroviral drugs to severe cases, as well as some experimental therapies, the sample sizes are too small to be distributed to the general population.

Hundreds of researchers around the world are working frantically to find a COVID-19 vaccine, but the development process takes months and is likely too late for the current outbreak.

Even if a vaccine magically appears, getting everyone access to it is not an easy task. Health authorities regularly complain that not enough people are getting the flu vaccine to ensure "herd immunity."

Similarities

But the new virus shares some characteristics with the flu, namely the steps each of us can take personally to slow the rate of infection:

Avoid shaking hands, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching your face and wear a mask if you are sick.

Such actions can limit new infections, as with influenza, gastrointestinal diseases and other infectious diseases.

France's Ministry of Health says only two in 10 people regularly wash their hands after using the toilet.

"And only 42 percent of people cover their mouth with an elbow or tissue when they cough or sneeze," he added, not encouragingly.

AFP. Rights reserved.

READ ALSO : How to wash your hands properly against Coronavirus?

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.