COVID-19 is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in affected people. Few of the people who are affected by COVID-19 will have mild symptoms whereas others suffer from severe illness. Even though the symptoms of COVID-19 are much like seasonal flu, there are many differences between both.

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Here is some information about COVID-19 and flu that help you in understanding how coronavirus differs from flu.

Incubation period

The time passes from initial infection to the inception of symptoms is called an incubation period.

  • COVID-19 – Its incubation period is from 2 to 14 days. The estimated incubation of COVID-19 as per CDC is 4-5 days.
  • Flu – Flu will have a shorter incubation period that is 1 to 4 days


  • COVID-19 – Common COVID-19 symptoms are cough, fatigue, fever, and breathing problem. Plus, few of them experiences stuffy or runny nose, headache, diarrhoea, sore throat, muscle pains and aches, chills, and inability to feel taste and smell. While few of them may not experience symptoms at all or experience mild symptoms.
  • Flu – Chills, fatigue, cough, fever, headache, sore throat, nausea, stuffy or runny nose, and aches are the common flu symptoms. People who have flu may experience few or all symptoms.

Severity and course of the disease

There is no complete information about COVID-19 because we are still learning a lot more regarding it. We are aware that there is some difference in severity and disease course of coronavirus and flu.

  • COVID-19 – According to the reports until now, 20% of COVID-19 cases are critical or severe. Few people are experiencing severe respiratory symptoms in 2nd week that is almost after eight days of virus attack.
  • Flu – The cases of flu resolves mostly within 3-7 days. Few people experience mild cough or fatigue over 2 weeks. Only 1% of people affected by flu need to be hospitalized.

Why COVID-19 is treated differently compared to the flu?

There are many reasons for treating COVID-19 different from respiratory viruses and flu. They include:

  • Immune deficiency – COVID-19 or SARS-COV-2 is completely a new virus that is identified at the end of 2019. The causes of the virus emergence are unknown. As it is new to the immune system, it is very difficult to fight against the virus.
  • Mortality and severity – It is severe than the flu, as per the data 20% people who have COVID-19 require hospitalization.
  • Transmission rate – According to studies, the reproductive number of COVID-19 (2.2) is much higher than flu (1.28). R0 indicates the rate of secondary infection that causes an infected person.

People over 65 years, pregnant women, infants, and those who have underlying health problems are at major risk. There is no vaccine for COVID-19 and there is no exact information whether flu vaccination protects from the virus or not. So, you have to take necessary preventive measures to protect yourself and your family members from COVID-19.

Make behavioural changes like washing hands often, maintaining social distance, wearing a mask when visiting outside, taking healthy diet, and doing exercise regularly to prevent the spread of the virus.