Differences: COVID-19 and the Flu
COVID-19: Caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.
Flu: Caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses.
While both the flu and COVID-19 may be transmitted in similar ways (see the Similarities section above), there is also a possible difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.
COVID-19: Antiviral medications and other therapies are currently being tested to see if they can address symptoms.
Flu: Antiviral medications can address symptoms and sometimes shorten the duration of the illness.
COVID-19: No vaccine is available at this time, though it is in progress.
Flu: A vaccine is available and effective to prevent some of the most dangerous types or to reduce the severity of the flu.
COVID-19: Approximately 679,977 cases worldwide; 124,686 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 29, 2020.*
Flu: Estimated 1 billion cases worldwide; 9.3 million to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year.
COVID-19: Approximately 31,734 deaths reported worldwide; 2,191 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 29, 2020.*
Flu: 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide; 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.
The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. Since this disease is caused by a new virus, people do not have immunity to it, and a vaccine may be many months away. Doctors and scientists are working on estimating the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be higher than that of most strains of the flu.
*This information comes from the Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases map developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.