WINTER is well and truly on the way and with it comes the seasonal flu.
The coronavirus is still lingering and experts have urged people to get a flu jab in order to prevent further strain on the NHS this winter.
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Seasonal flu is different to Covid-19 and strains of the flu change every year – which is why is you had a flu jab last year – it won’t protect you from this year’s strain.
While symptoms of the flu and the coronavirus differ, the two are also transmitted differently.
Both are spread through droplets that are omitted which is why measures such as face masks and social distancing are underway.
Understanding how the two illnesses spread could help you determine which virus you have if you start to feel unwell.
Scientists are still learning about Covid-19 but experts have said there are four ways that the killer bug spreads differently in comparison to the flu.
1. Less immunity
So far a vaccine has not been found for Covid-19, whereas each year a new flu jab is developed to fight the newest strain of the virus.
Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech who studies airborne viruses said Covid spreads more than the flu due to the fact that we have not yet seen immunity to the virus.
She said it’s more likely that we will see “superspreader” events with Covid-19 due to the fact that the population has less immunity.
Speaking to The Huffington Post – this she said means that more people in any given room are more susceptible to contracting Covid than they are the flu.
It is thought that once a vaccine is developed then this will be distributed to key workers and the most vulnerable first.
A mass roll-out of a vaccine would include immunising wider groups of people.
Symptoms of the flu are similar to the coronavirus and in both it’s likely that you will experience a high temperature.
If you have the flu then you might also have a dry cough – with Covid you would have a persistent cough.
With the flu it’s likely you will have headaches and also a loss of appetite.
Experts have found that some people who have Covid don’t display symptoms.
This is another reason that Covid spreads more than the flu – if people have the virus and they don’t know they have it – because they aren’t experiencing any symptoms, then they could unknowingly be passing it on to others.
Experts say that around 40 to 50 per cent of people who catch the virus are asymptomatic.
While some cases of the flu can also be asymptomatic – the incubation period for Covid is longer.
Marr said that the Covid incubation stage can last up to 14 days.
With the flu most people show symptoms within three days so the window they can spread the virus is much shorter.
The viral load of the flu also does not start until symptoms are visible, whereas with Covid this could be up to two weeks.
3. Viral spread
According to Marr, a person with the flu with likely spread it, on average to one to 1.3 people.
With Covid this goes up to two to 2.5 people.
Covid has also been known to spread to over ten people as was seen in the infamous White House Rose Garden “super spreader” event.
Dr Anthony Fauci previously said that at least 11 people who attended the September event went on to test positive for the virus.
He previously said: “We had a super spreader event in the White House, and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks.”
Marr added that the reason Covid can spread easily is due to measures implemented by the public.
This includes effective social distancing and the use of face masks and coverings.
4. The kids are alright
Extensive studies have found that transmission of coronavirus is different in children compared to adults.
Research by experts at King’s College London also previously found that children have different virus symptoms to adults.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that kids are “important” when it comes to the flu.
“Children are important drivers of influenza virus transmission in the community.
“For Covid-19 virus, initial data indicates that children are less affected than adults and that clinical attack rates in the 0-19 age group are low.
“Further preliminary data from household transmission studies in China suggest that children are infected from adults, rather than vice versa.”
The WHO also states that kids are most at risk when it comes to severe flu infections, as are pregnant women, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
It added:” For Covid-19, our current understanding is that older age and underlying conditions increase the risk for severe infection.”