Coronavirus vs. the Flu


Over the past few weeks, the media has exploded with news on the Covid-19/ Novel Coronavirus. There have been many reports of outbreaks in 73 countries worldwide (as of February 29, 2020). Many more people have been panicking about the possibility of getting infected. During the peak of seasonal flu season in the Northern hemisphere, this outbreak has occurred, making identifying Covid-19 vs. flu very challenging as they share the same symptoms.

So far, the new coronavirus (Covid-19) has led to more than 79,000 cases and 2800 deaths in China and more than 7000 cases, and 150 deaths worldwide. The overall mortality rate for Covid-19 is 2-3%, but that varies greatly by age, with young people averaging a 0.2% mortality rate. The incubation period, or the period of time a person can be infected with the coronavirus, is contagious before symptoms develop, is 2-14 days on average. So many more people can be exposed to the illness before a person realizes they are sick. Long incubation periods make it more challenging to track down people who were exposed to the virus.

In the U.S. alone, seasonal flu has already caused 32 million illnesses, 310,000 hospitalizations, and 18,000 deaths this 2019-2020 season, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making the mortality rate for this season 0. 5%. The incubation period for the flu I 1-2 days on average, so people know they are sick relatively quickly, making it easier to identify and contain outbreaks.

Seasonal flu is a common illness known to humankind for millennia. The medical and scientific world knows a lot about the ever-changing seasonal virus – and there are updated vaccines every year to protect the population from getting the flu.

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) is a very new virus, only discovered in December 2019. There is not much-confirmed information about the illness, and new development happens daily. It is also not a virus previously known to humanity, as it is primarily a zoologic virus or a virus that lives in animal hosts. These are among the reasons why people are particularly concerned about Covid-19.

The international pharmaceutical industry is actively developing vaccines for the Covid-19 virus. According to the Israeli Minister of Science and Technology, scientists at Migal technologies are currently developing a vaccine against the Coronavirus. The company had already been developing a coronavirus vaccine for poultry, and they were able to create a vaccine code quickly. Migal predicts they will have an oral vaccine in 3 weeks. Testing and approvals will require about 3 months before it will be available for mass production.

While the world waits for the vaccine, standard precautions can help reduce the risk of disease transmission. These include:

  • 1) Handwashing regularly (especially in the public area)
  • 2) Coughing or sneezing into your elbow or shoulder with your mouth and nose completely covered.
  • 3) Do not sneeze or cough into your hands if you use a tissue; dispose of it immediately and sanitize your hands
  • 4) Avoiding close contact with anyone who is showing symptoms of being sick 
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