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How do COVID-19 symptoms differ from flu symptoms?

Flu symptoms vs COVID-19 symptoms

You may have heard COVID-19 being compared to the flu. The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses which can cause similar symptoms but they are caused by different viruses.

How can you tell the difference between the symptoms of these two infections?

First off, the symptoms of the flu often come on suddenly while COVID-19 symptoms appear to develop more gradually. Common symptoms of the flu include:

  • cough
  • fatigue
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • fever
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • headache
  • body aches and pains

As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap in symptoms between COVID-19 and the flu. However, it’s important to note that many common symptoms of the flu are observed less often in cases of COVID-19.

The WHO also notes the following differences between the two:

  • COVID-19 appears to affect children with less frequency than the flu does.
  • The flu has a shorter incubation period than that of COVID-19.
  • Transmitting the virus prior to developing symptoms drives many influenza infections but doesn’t appear to play as much of a role for COVID-19.
  • The percentage of people who develop serious symptoms or complications appears higher for COVID-19 than for the flu.
  • There’s currently no vaccine or antivirals available for COVID-19. However, interventions are available for the flu.
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