How does COVID-19 compare to the flu?

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Since the COVID-19 outbreak doctors have been fielding questions and concerns about the differences between the coronavirus and the flu and which one is more harmful.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 20,000 Americans have died from the flu this season.

Dr. Daniel Leung, University of Utah Hospital, provided ABC4 News with insight.

“That doesn’t mean that COVID-19 is not more serious, not more deadly or less deadly. COVID-19 certainly has the potential to kill the same number or greater number than the flu.”

Dr. Leung says the concern regarding COVID-19 is that the virus is new and comes with a lot of unknowns about how it is transmitted and how many people it can infect.

“Another difference is that we have a vaccine for influenza, whereas we don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19. We also have medication that can treat influenza but we have no proven treatments for COVID-19,” Leung explained. “It also has potential to overwhelm our healthcare system, which in the setting of influenza, which is seasonal, we usually can have a rough estimate or a good guess at how many who are going to come to our hospital or be hospitalized.”

He adds telling the difference between flu and COVID-19 symptoms can be difficult.

“Both cause cough, fever, both can cause you shortness of breath. But one difference that we’ve seen is that little kids and children in general are less likely to be very sick from COVID-19, whereas little kids can get very sick from the flu. COVID-19 and flu both impact the elderly.”


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