What is the difference between Influenza and COVID-19? Get Your Facts Right

August 12, 2020 | Answered by: Dr Sri Viknarajan

Hello there, I am Latifah, age 27 years old. I frequently came across articles regarding COVID-19 in social media. I am having confusion on few things regarding COVID-19. May i know what is the difference between COVID-19 and Influenza virus? Is there any vaccine available for COVID-19? I am very anxious with recent spike in number of patients who are tested positive for the virus. Please enlighten me with the answers to these questions.
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Thanks for asking the question. You are making the right decision by asking the question and not letting yourself to trust the social media. First of all, you need to know which info is a myth or which is a fact. I will help you with some common confusions faced by public including your questions.

As the world is affected tremendously by the COVID-19 outbreak that has been killing thousands of lives around the world, these statistics have definitely started to influence people emotionally, creating worries that they might be infected with the disease. The anxieties stirred by this infectious disease had created economic instability, social, physical health and emotional breakdown within the global populations. Many people are worried and start to feel fidgety only by listening to how grueling this disease can be due to the rapid nature of transmission. Some start to feel depressed and some suffer from anxiety. Hence, it is not surprising that wild imaginations and questions start to linger around. 

As most other diseases that have myths and tips to survive from it with unknown validity and reliability, COVID-19 is not an exception. For example, there is a myth relating to hives or also known as urticaria indicating that the disease can be cured using salt. Another myth that has been spreading around is the habit of night baths can lead to pleural effusion. COVID-19 has its own interesting myths and surprisingly, many people actually believe in them. These myths can be very confusing even to the doctors. This article will list the myths related to COVID-19. This is very essential for you not to get confused and able to distinguish between myth and fact.

Yes, it is similar as both diseases affect the human's respiratory tract leading to similar symptoms experienced by patients and they are both transmitted via respiratory droplets. Nevertheless, the main culprit to each disease is totally different. They are caused by different viruses. Both of the viruses are known to cause symptoms affecting respiratory airway causing difficulty breathing, cough, runny nose and most of the time the severity of the symptoms will depend on how patients’ bodies react to the disease. Some patients are asymptomatic, some may experience mild symptoms and few may experience severe symptoms. As mentioned previously, these viruses are transmitted via respiratory droplets such as coughing and sneezing. Therefore, it is important to emphasize on preventive measures such as face mask and regular hand hygiene. Needless to say, Influenza and COVID-19 are two different viruses with different shapes and forms. Hence, even if there is a vaccine for Influenza virus, the vaccine does not work to prevent COVID-19. In addition to that, the rate of transmission of COVID-19 is much more rapid in comparison to Influenza virus.

In Malaysia, statistics have indicated that most patients are from the range of age between 26 to 30 years old and 56 to 60 years old. From this information, we can conclude that this infectious disease affects anyone at any age and with any background. The factors that contribute to this disease affecting patients from age 26 to 30 years old include their recent travel to countries being affected with COVID-19 and some patients are the head of the family that plays an important role to buy groceries leading to their exposure to the disease. Nevertheless, it is worth to be reminded that those patients who suffer from chronic illnesses such as heart diseases, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease and many more are highly likely to experience serious complications. Due to that reason, the elderly have higher risk of mortality and more susceptible to poor prognosis. 

Although there are no specific medications that can be used to treat COVID-19 and as for now, patients are treated symptomatically, there are still preventive measures that can be implemented to curb the spread of this infectious disease. The key to a good healthcare system is prevention. Starts with regular hand hygiene by washing hands using soap and warm water. If these alternatives are not available, hand sanitizer can help to keep good hand hygiene. Make sure to wear facemask especially when you have symptoms such as cough and sneeze. Abide to rules set by the government such as staying put at home during Movement Control Order. Regardless of the fact that we are still searching for the treatment of COVID-19 and the treatment is still symptomatically, we can practice these preventive measures to help flatten the graph of patients being affected with COVID-19. Hopefully, the number of successfully treated patients will continue to increase and those being tested positive will decrease.

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