Think Covid Is Becoming Like The Flu Heres How Much Worse It Still Is
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Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist who warned that the globe wasn’t ready for a pandemic, shared a new prediction last week on the fate of COVID-19: “Once omicron goes through a country, then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases, so COVID can be treated more like seasonal flu.”
Right now, that’s hard to imagine.
With the U.S. recording more than 750,000 new cases and nearly 2,000 deaths a day from the super-contagious omicron variant, and hospitals in many parts of the country still bracing for the worst, it’s difficult to foresee the day we can liken COVID to influenza.
“We’ve learned to kind of accommodate and live with influenza,” said Warner Greene, a virologist at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco. “Hopefully we can get there with COVID, but we’re not there yet.”
There is just no comparison.
A closer look at the numbers two years into the pandemic shows two unmistakable takeaways: COVID killed more than eight times as many Americans in 2021 as the flu killed in the 2017-18 season, the worst in more than a decade. And since the SARS-CoV-2 virus swept the globe, influenza deaths in the U.S. have plummeted by more than 90% as humanity hunkered down.
“Let me consult my crystal ball,” joked Rutherford.
How Are Mood Disorders Linked To Severe Covid
One large study reviewed 91 million people with mood disorders and other mental health conditions. It found that if you have preexisting mood disorders, you’re at a high risk for hospitalization or death but not necessarily severe COVID-19.
According to the study, there are several socio-economic reasons why preexisting mood disorders can increase your chances for hospitalization and death if you get COVID-19.
- Lack of access to preventative health care
- Ability to understand health recommendations
- Lack of access to affordable health care
- Living in tight spaces or facilities like nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons, or psychiatric inpatient units
In addition, people living with mental health conditions may have certain mood disorder symptoms that can interfere with our ability to care for ourselves and be engaged in our health. This can make it hard to effectively follow health behaviors like maintaining social distance or staying in quarantine to reduce the spread of the infection.
Moreover, people with mental health and mood disorders are also more likely to have conditions like diabetes and heart problems that are major risk factors for severe COVID-19.
How Is Flu Different From Covid
Flu and COVID-19 are caused by two different and very distinct viruses. However, they do cause similar symptoms. As we know, thanks to ZOE COVID Study app contributors, the most common COVID-19 symptoms include headache, runny nose,sneezing, sore throat, fever, and cough, which are all common flu symptoms. So how do we tell the difference?
Our research shows that loss of smell or loss of taste is still one of the most important predictors of testing positive for COVID-19, so itâs an important symptom to look out for.
Even if youâre vaccinated, you can still catch COVID-19. COVID symptoms can feel a lot like a cold or the flu – if youâre newly unwell we recommend you get a PCR test to rule COVID out. If youâre a ZOE COVID Study contributor and report any of the 20+ symptoms consistent with COVID-19, youâll be offered a test through the app.
If youâre feeling unwell for any reason – whether itâs a cold, flu or COVID-19 – itâs a good idea to stay home and avoid spreading your germs to others.
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Causes Of The New Coronavirus
Researchers aren’t sure what caused it, and investigations as to its origin are ongoing. There’s more than one type of coronavirus. They’re common in people and in animals including bats, camels, cats, and cattle. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is similar to MERS and SARS. They all came from bats.
Is It A Cold The Flu Or Covid How To Tell The Difference
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a cough, sneeze or sore throat can inspire panic. Learn how to tell viral infections apart.
Similar symptoms of COVID and influenza make it hard to know for sure without testing.
A nasty flu season and the rise of seasonal colds have combined with the new omicron variant of COVID-19 to create an infernal mix of viral infections this winter. If your throat starts itching or you feel fatigued, how are you supposed to know if it’s COVID-19, flu or a cold?
The COVID-19 virus has infected more than 315 million people worldwide and killed at least 5.5 million. The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, usually dry, as well as fever and excessive body fatigue. If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, get tested for COVID as soon as possible. The deadly serious nature of COVID-19 makes it important to identify and isolate the infected, particularly from people who are immunocompromised, seniors or in other high-risk categories.
Whether or not you’re currently feeling sick, it’s a good time to understand the differences between the three illnesses and what specific symptoms could mean. We also spoke with medical experts to learn the best ways of protecting yourself and your loved ones from diseases this season.
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How Do I Know If I Have A Cold Or Covid
The symptoms of the common cold are also similar to COVID-19 and the flu.
Like COVID-19, you may notice symptoms such as cough, sore throat and a runny nose. But common colds usually also come with sneezing, watery eyes and post-nasal drip. However, it may be harder for doctors to diagnose right away if you have other symptoms on top of signs of a common cold.
Usually, common colds resolve on their own and don’t lead to further health complications and often can be treated with over-the-counter medication.
Here’s a list of COVID-19 symptoms that are different from common colds:
- Loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea or diarrhea
“If there’s fever, body aches or chills, that would make me more concerned about other respiratory illnesses — like the flu or COVID,” Solomon said. Since the COVID-19 vaccine helps prevent severe symptoms, more common signs of a cold can still be COVID, he added.
Because of this, Solomon has guided his patients and family members to pay close attention to their usual allergy symptoms and get a diagnostic test if they notice anything less common.
Is It A Cold The Flu Or Covid
All these illnesses are caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. All are contagious and can spread easily from person to person. And they cause some similar symptoms. So it can be hard to tell them apart.
Here are some things to look for if your child gets sick.
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Vaccines And Herd Immunity
Countries that have begun distributing COVID-19 vaccines soon expect to see a reduction in severe illness. But it will take longer to see how effectively vaccines can reduce transmission. Data from clinical trials suggest that vaccines that prevent symptomatic infection might also stop a person from passing on the virus.
If vaccines do block transmission and if they remain effective against newer variants of the virus it might be possible to eliminate the virus in regions where enough people are vaccinated so that they can protect those who are not, contributing to herd immunity. A vaccine that is 90% effective at blocking transmission will need to reach at least 55% of the population to achieve temporary herd immunity as long as some social distancing measures such as face masks and many people working from home remain in place to keep transmission in check, according to a model developed by Alexandra Hogan at Imperial College London and her colleagues. But if the rate of transmission increases because of a new variant, or if a vaccine is less effective than 90% at blocking transmission, vaccine coverage will need to be greater to blunt circulation.
Vaccinating even 55% of the population will be challenging in many countries. The virus will stick around if parts of the world dont get vaccinated, says Jeffrey Shaman, an infectious-disease researcher at Columbia University in New York City.
Is Flurona More Dangerous
Scientists still arent sure exactly how an influenza infection changes the severity of COVID-19 illness, and vice versa, though lab studies provide some clues.
In one study, researchers found that infection with influenza A may increase a persons susceptibility to COVID-19 by increasing the amount of ACE2the receptor that allows the virus to infect our cellsin the lungs. This may increase the odds of getting COVID-19 as well as the severity of that illness, the authors wrote.
An animal study published in October 2021 found that coinfection with influenza and COVID-19 led to more severe and prolonged pneumonia in hamsters.
In a meta-analysis published in PLoS One, researchers reviewed more than 6,000 studies of hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients and reported that 19% of COVID-19 patients experienced coinfection with another virus at the time of their COVID-19 diagnosis, and 24% had superinfections . For both groups, researchers found that the likelihood of death increased by more than three times.While animal studies and retrospective reviews can be helpful in understanding how these viruses interact with the body, Brewer recommends caution when drawing conclusions in individual cases.
Just reading about one case where somebody either did very well or did not do well isnt necessarily going to tell you how most people are going to do, Brewer said.
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How Common Is Flurona
Early last year, experts had warned of a possible twindemic with the possibility of overwhelming health systems. In the end, there was essentially no flu, thanks in part to COVID-19 mitigation strategies like masking and social distancing, Timothy Brewer, MD, MPH, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health and at the School of Medicine, told Verywell in an email.
In the current flu season, the U.S. is seeing a substantial uptick in influenza cases. So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 18,479 flu cases compared to 877 at the same time last year.
If influenza cases are up, then the likelihood for coinfection will be higher too, particularly because these viruses are circulating at the same time, Brewer said.
In a 2019 study, researchers estimated that 43% of surveyed patients hospitalized with a flu-like illness were infected with more than one virus.
Help Vital Research By Logging Your Flu Jab
The ZOE COVID study is ideally placed to monitor flu, and this year we will be using your symptom reports to track the impacts of both COVID-19 and flu. We have updated the app so you can log your flu jab alongside your COVID vaccinations, which will help us monitor how vaccines impact the spread of flu and COVID-19.
Flu is just the start of our expanded studies and soon weâll be looking into a wider range of health concerns as part of our wider health studies programme. To take part in these studies, youâll need to opt in via the app. So head to the app today, opt in on the home menu and keep an eye out for new studies.
If you havenât already, , log your vaccines and take a few minutes each day to report how youâre feeling, so we can help beat COVID and winter flu.
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How Long Someone Can Spread The Virus
For both COVID-19 and flu, its possible to spread the virus for at least 1 day before experiencing any symptoms.
If a person has COVID-19, they could be contagious for a longer time than if they had flu.
Most people with flu are contagious for about 1 day before they show symptoms.
Older children and adults with flu appear to be most contagious during the initial 3-4 days of their illness but many people remain contagious for about 7 days.
Infants and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious for even longer.
How long someone can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 is still under investigation.
Its possible for people to spread the virus for about 2 days before experiencing signs or symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms first appeared. If someone is asymptomatic or their symptoms go away, its possible to remain contagious for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. People who are hospitalized with severe disease and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious for 20 days or longer.
When Will We Treat Covid Like The Flu
How Floridians can beat omicron | Perspective, Jan. 2
I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. But when can we mentally start treating this like the flu? Every year the flu kills tens of thousands of Americans. But we dont keep a running total. In contrast, we do keep a running total of the more than 800,000 killed by COVID. Every year there is a new flu mutation, so we need a new flu shot. Nobody thinks anything of this. And nobody knows or cares what flu variant we are on. So instead of an annual flu shot, maybe we will need a twice-a-year COVID shot. COVID kills more than the flu. Wearing a mask and social distancing, something we dont do for the flu, seems like a good precaution. Im 68 and Ive never seen this type of hysteria reporting over the flu. Its time for the media to ease up on the hysteria reporting and get to flu-like reporting.
Russ A. Johnson, Hudson
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Who Says Covid Should Not Be Treated Like The Flu
ovid-19 should not be likened to the flu, the World Health Organisation has said.
The global health body said that governments around the world should not suggest to people that the data have suddenly changed, or the virus has suddenly got incredibly weak.
Asked about remarks that Covid-19 should be treated like the flu, Dr Nabarro told Sky News: I keep wondering what the people who make these amazing predictions know that I and my colleagues in the World Health Organisation dont know.
You see, what people are seeing from around the world and reporting to the WHO is this is still a very, very dangerous virus, especially for people who have not been vaccinated and whove not been exposed to it before.
Your Guide To Avoiding Coronavirus Flu And Confusion This Flu Season
It sometimes feels like the more we learn about coronavirus, the harder it is to discern it from other illnesses.
Now, flu season is upon us now, which is sure to present perplexing questions: Does having a fever mean I have COVID? Is this stuffy nose the result of a cold, or could it be the flu? Or allergies?
There are at least a dozen symptoms shared by some or all of those ailments, making it nearly impossible to know what you have without a diagnostic test, a medical exam or both.
The good news is that, in many cases, you dont need to know the cause in order to know what to do. The key is to watch for changes in your or familys health and to respond promptly.
To help, weve put together this side-by-side comparison of symptoms as a quick reference.
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Can I Get Covid And The Flu At The Same Time
You can certainly be infected with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Dr. Hamer noted that someone with COVID may struggle greatly with additional flu symptoms.
“It has been reported, but it turns out that we don’t have a lot of experience with coinfection because last year when we had a really big surge of COVID, it was the lightest flu season on record,” said Dr. Daniel Solomon, an infectious disease doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Unfortunately, this year’s flu season looks much worse. A less effective flu vaccine and reduced COVID restrictions have led to an early spike in cases that is already far higher this season compared to 2020-21.
“If someone comes in with a fever and a headache, it’s going to be hard for us to know if it’s flu or if it’s COVID. That’s why a lot of health care systems are moving towards testing for both flu and COVID at the same time,” said Dr. Ala Dababneh, an infectious disease doctor with Mayo Clinic. Doctors may also test for RSV.
An at-home COVID-19 test can help determine your illness.
What About A Cough
If you have a cold or flu you may well have a cough, along with other symptoms.
Flu usually comes on suddenly and sufferers will often experience muscle aches, chills, headaches, tiredness, a sore throat and a runny or stuffed nose, along with the cough. It feels worse than a heavy cold.
Colds tend to develop more gradually and are less severe, although they do still make you feel unwell. Along with a cough, there may be sneezing and a sore throat and runny nose. Fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches are rare.
A coronavirus cough means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits or “episodes” in 24 hours.
If you usually have a cough because of a long-standing medical condition like COPD, it may be worse than usual.
You should get tested for coronavirus if you develop a new, continuous cough.
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