Flu season is around the corner. This, combined with COVID19, will have an impact on the health our community and capacity of our health systems.
Although COVID19 and influenza are vastly different pathogens, they do have areas of overlap:
• Both transmitted through respiratory droplets • Similar symptoms in the beginning
There are also drastic differences:
• COVID19 much more contagious than flu • COVID19 higher fatality rate (COVID19 IFR ~2.5 times- to 300 times deadlier than the flu, depending where you are in the globe; In the US, it’s 6.8 times deadlier than the flu) • Flu: most infectious AFTER symptoms; COVID19: most infectious BEFORE symptoms. • Flu: high risk for kids; COVID19: uncommon among kids or mild disease • Flu: Symptoms peak during 2-7 days; COVID19: symptoms peak 2-3 weeks • Flu: We have a vaccine; COVID19: no vaccine
• Because both are spread through droplets, non-pharmaceutical interventions (masks, social distancing, movement restrictions) will be equally, if not more, important in the upcoming months.
• Flu vaccine is even more important to get this year. National coverage is lower than 50% in adults. We need to change this.
• No specific symptoms distinguish flu with COVID19, so it’s important for physicians to identify etiology
• Managing pediatric populations will differ depending on the virus
The strength of our collective public health response will directly influence morbidity and mortality this Fall. Do your part.
Data Source: Solomon et al., (2020). Influenza in the COVID-19 Era. JAMA.