Influenza and Coronavirus: What's the difference?

Covid-19 and seasonal influenza are similar viruses but can be distinguished in several ways.

common points

Both viruses can evolve and adapt to new hosts very quickly.

Symptoms in humans are similar. We find fever, cough, breathing difficulties and muscle aches. These symptoms are the most common, but they are not very specific.

Viruses are transmitted in the same way: by air transport, by direct contact. This is done by coughing and sneezing which results in small droplets containing the virus. Dirty hands are also a medium of transmission, as they contain virus particles.

The most vulnerable people are the elderly, over 60, 75 or 80 years old. Then, these are patients with chronic diseases, whose immunity can be damaged by infection with influenza or covid-19. Younger people can also have more or less severe symptoms, but they rarely need hospitalization than older people.

Symptoms of a delta variable

Several new symptoms emerged when the alpha variant was replaced by the delta variant in the UK, and it now appears that there is a difference between the symptoms reported by vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated.

Not vaccinated

For people who haven’t been vaccinated, the five most common symptoms are: headache, sore throat, runny nose, fever and persistent cough. These are consistent with the symptoms of the delta variant, which has become the dominant strain in Belgium.

Partially vaccinated

For people who have received a dose of the vaccine, the most common symptoms are headache, runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, and a persistent cough. Not only did the ranking change, but the fever was no longer in the top five and was replaced by a new symptom: sneezing.

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fully fortified

Those who have been fully vaccinated currently report headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and loss of smell as the most common complaints. Again, the arrangement is different. This time, not only did the fever disappear from the list, but the persistent cough. Loss of smell, a symptom of the original strain of coronavirus, is making a comeback.


Influenza and covid-19 belong to two different viral families. SARS-CoV-2 is part of the Coronavirus family. The influenza viruses that cause influenza are part of the Orthomyxoviridae family.

There is no medication available for covid-19, while there are antivirals for influenza. The use is precautionary and can be done in the event of an epidemic.

Influenza can be prevented with a vaccine that is reviewed annually, depending on whether or not new strains of the disease emerge.


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