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What are the differences between the coronavirus and the flu?

What are the commonalities and differences between the coronavirus and the flu?

Common points :

  • These viruses can evolve quickly and eventually adapt to a new host, or escape the immune defense that the host has already acquired. Why is their genetic material or genome carried by RNA, which encodes the enzymes that cause the genome to multiply in infected cells: this is the source of mutations, because viral enzymes make mistakes by multiplying the viral genome . These two viruses belong to different virus families: SARS-CoV-2 (official name) is part of the coronavirus family (Coronaviridae), and the influenza virus that causes influenza is part of another family of virus (Orthomyxoviridae).
  • Some animals in nature are hosts for the virus, while other animals can adapt the virus and pass it on to humans, called intermediate hosts.
  • Symptoms in men are similar and unclear: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and muscle pain are the most common symptoms. The biological parameters evaluated during the blood test showed that the levels of lymphocytes and platelets decreased slightly, while the percentage of neutrophils increased, especially when the bacteria were superinfected. The dose of CRP (C reactive protein), a general marker of inflammation, was increased.
  • The route of transmission is through the air through direct contact: infected patients cough and sneeze and emit small droplets containing the virus, thus contaminating their surrounding environment. Hands infected with the virus are also a means of transmission. Both viruses have lipid envelopes and are fragile in the external environment. After a few minutes, their infectivity begins to decrease. The exact survival time is not yet known.
  • The most vulnerable people with the highest death rates are those aged 75 or older, followed by patients with chronic diseases that weaken their immunity to these viruses. This does not mean that young people and children are not infected, but the symptoms are usually mild and hospitalization is rarely necessary.

Differences:

  • These two viruses belong to different virus families: SARS-CoV-2 (official name) is part of the coronavirus family (Coronaviridae), and the influenza virus that causes influenza is part of another family of virus (Orthomyxoviridae). Influenza viruses come from poultry, while some coronaviruses, including COVID-19, are bats. The possible hypothesis based on phylogenetic analysis confirms that the intermediate host of SARS-CoV-2 is pangolin. This protected mammal is eaten in some parts of the world and is a target of poaching, especially in traditional Chinese practices.
  • There is currently no immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in the population, which contributes to its rapid spread. This can also be seen in influenza when new variants appear in humans (the H1N1 variant pandemic in 2009).
  • There are no drugs for SARS-CoV-2, and antiviral drugs for influenza viruses can prevent a major outbreak. Some molecules developed against other viruses have shown in vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2, including HIV protease inhibitors. At the end of February, the first clinical trial of the antiviral drug remdesivir against the Ebola virus began.
  • Influenza can be prevented by a vaccine that is reviewed annually based on the potential emergence of new strains. Development of a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 envelope protein has started, but it will not be widely used until the first trial is successful.

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