Head of the Center for Infectious Diseases and AIDS, prof. According to Saulius Shaplinskas, no virologist, immunologist or other self-respecting doctor in a similar field would say that the coronavirus is the same as the flu.
“There are definitely things in common, but there are also differences. So to say that it is the same would be wrong for the public. Here are some extremes.
Too much intimidation of people, talk about curfew changes the fact that someone begins to disbelieve in the virus. “It is the same pity to say that there is no coronavirus and that the flu is the same as the common cold,” he said.
8 times more contagious than the flu
According to the interlocutor, although KOVID-19 and the flu are caused by viruses, it should be understood that the diseases are different.
“Yes, both infections are airway vulnerable and the first symptoms are very similar. “However, the properties of viruses are different, so they can affect human health in different ways.”
S. Zaplinskas pointed out that it is now clear that the rate of spread of KOVID-19 is about 8 times higher than that of the flu.
“In other words, if one person infects one person with the flu and another, then with 5 waves of infection, there will be 8 times more people infected with the coronavirus than with the flu.
Accordingly, in order to stop the spread of such a disease, it is necessary for one person to infect no more than one person. “Then gradually there is no more epidemic spread,” he said.
On the other hand, the virologist noted, this is gradual and happens, especially when it comes to the flu, because some have immunity, some are vaccinated,
According to him, the effectiveness of influenza vaccines, if well matched with the virus, which has begun to spread in society, can reach 60-70%.
Distribution time varies
“Also, in the case of the flu, the virus is spread by a person about a day before and during the onset of symptoms. This can take up to 7 days on average, sometimes longer for children.
In the case of KOVID-19, it is clear that the distribution period may be longer, but most of the distribution is still during the symptoms and that spread is faster, “explained S. Zaplinskas.
At the same time, he reminded that in the case of SARS and MERS of associated coronaviruses, the difference was that people were mostly infected during the onset of symptoms. Therefore, it was much easier to eradicate the epidemic.
When immunity is greater than the enemy from the virus
The interviewee pointed out that the clinic for the two diseases is also different.
“Yes, in both cases the airways are damaged and the way is opened for other complications – viral and especially bacterial.
Bacterial complications are the basis for complications from influenza and death. In the case of KOVID-19, on the one hand, the virus has the property of damaging many organs, but on the other hand, the immune system itself may overreact, causing cytokine storms. “Trying to defeat the virus in this way, the immunity can do more harm than the virus itself,” S. Zaplinskas said.
The beginning of the flu is remembered until the nearest hour
Speaking about the clinic and the symptoms of the diseases, the professor of LSMU, infectious disease doctor Alvidas Laikonis noted that in case of flu, a person can usually tell with accuracy the day and hour when his health deteriorated.
“Usually, the flu clinic has a very sudden onset, so usually a person remembers exactly when he started to catch a cold and break bones. The flu is not so much characterized by loss of taste and smell.
Headache is a common symptom, but there is no shortness of breath, which is more common with coronavirus. “In addition, as patients have to deal with it, they complain of the accompanying very great weakness,” the doctor shared his remarks.
The “passing” flu goes away in a few years
At the same time, A. Laishkonis drew attention to another problem – often adults with the flu, strong people trying to “walk”.
However, according to the professor, here appears deception of the flu – later it can cause inflammation of the heart muscle, myocarditis, which occurs 2-3 months after the disease, inflammation of the kidneys, which also occurs only after a while, even after 2-3 years.
“The most common complications of the flu are the so-called primary influenza pneumonia, which is caused by the flu virus itself and is the most severe pneumonia. Another thing is that the flu usually “opens the door” to a bacterial infection and makes an additional contribution streptococcus staphylococcus caused by pneumonia.
Another complication is sinusitis. Thus, the flu is characterized by many unpleasant complications. “But we can at least be satisfied that we have treatment and prevention,” summarizes A. Leikonis.
Children get sick more often
The professor mentioned another difference – many children have the flu.
“From 5 to 10 percent. populations get the flu, but not all are included in the statistics. No effort is made to diagnose every case of influenza, especially if it is not severe, unless hospital care is needed. That is 5-10 populations can get the flu, children – up to 20 percent.
In contrast, coronavirus cases make up up to 3 percent of children with coronavirus. The clinic is different, and the infectivity is different. “Therefore, discussions about the education of children and groups are not so unambiguous,” the interlocutor compared.
Leading viruses displace the “weaker”
Although the flu has already been reported, it is being monitored to a lesser extent. According to A. Laiconis, there is such a theory in virology that if there are two viral pathogens at the same time, usually the stronger virus suppresses the others somewhat.
“Coronavirus is more common now, we already had a lot of flu. But we still do not have much. But we can be happy that we have a vaccine and we have the treatment and there is a problem when it comes to distinguishing whether it is the flu or the coronavirus. “So if the clinic is very similar, we look for it, but if it is not found, it is left for another virus,” he said.
As S. Zaplinskas noted, when the virus changes so that it can infect a human cell faster, it gains an advantage over other viruses.
“When a new virus crosses the species barrier and begins to spread from person to person, it must be remembered that it is easier to spread a virus that has changed and adapted more easily than one that has been known for a long time.
But, just as in nature, the goal of a virus is to survive and multiply, so its purpose is not to mutate in that direction to kill its hosts. “This is not the case with mutations in a more pathogenic, more malignant course of the clinic.”
Did you die more from the flu than was announced?
The portal tv3.lt reminds that it wrote that the mortality rate of Covid-19 is lower than the announced spring, but it is difficult to compare with the mortality rate from the flu.
“When deaths are recorded, then if a person does not die from the flu, even though it has been present but has not been diagnosed, then, naturally, a person will not fall into the category of people who have died from the flu.
Papuola was about 20 years old unless he was diagnosed with the flu, a severe clinic. But those other deaths when the virus was “close” are not reflected in the statistics.
In the case of coronavirus, sometimes it may be just the opposite, especially at the outset when a person was reported to have died of coronavirus, but the question is whether or not he or she has been diagnosed. “Thus, relying only on death statistics, if there is no more detailed analysis, it is possible to come to wrong conclusions,” said S. Zaplinskas.
He noted that KOVID-19 mortality is currently as close as it would be during a severe, intense pandemic flu.
At the same time, the professor noted that the cold season is always associated with a higher number of deaths from cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases, because different viruses worsen the condition of people with chronic diseases.
“Older age is not in itself a risk factor, but it is important that then the immunity is weaker and more chronic diseases are more common. And it has always been observed that these infections are aggravated in cold weather, not by cold weather, but by viruses – flu and other colds. “Only appropriately, when the disease develops, complications, the spectrum of clinical phenomena can vary,” he said.