How is covid different from a strong flu (despite the fact that the symptoms are becoming more similar) | Mexico News

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Far from what many may think nowadays, the fact that the symptoms of covid make it almost impossible to distinguish this disease from others caused by respiratory viruses such as influenza, this does not mean that we should stop worry or protect against the most vulnerable.

Experts warn that infection rates remain very high among the population and that although vaccines prevent the development of a severe picture of covid among vaccinated people, the most vulnerable people, such as people over 65 years old or immunocompromised, continue to be at risk .

How to distinguish it from the flu?

Sore throat, headache, runny nose, stuffy nose and cough are some of the main symptoms that can indicate a picture of covid-19.

So how do you know if what you are suffering from is the flu or covid? It cannot be done. The only way to find out is to take a test.although according to experts, if you are currently suffering from any of these symptoms, you most likely have the covid virus.

“La covid puede tener todo tipo de síntomas. Puede desde no dar ningún síntoma hasta darte cuadros muy parecidos a la gripe”, explained to the BBC Salvador Peiró, medical specialist in public health and investigator in pharmacoepidemiology of FISABIO, a biomedical investigation fund In Spain.

“Right now we’re seeing more dry coughs, fewer problems with anosmia (loss of smell), although there are also cases. Likewise, it can give anything from mucus in the nose and little else to a very bad cold with fever, a lot of weakness, general malaise, great fatigue, headache. It varies a lot from person to person,” he explains.

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In general, covid develops a typical picture of respiratory viruses, with some peculiarity in some cases, especially, when patients develop problems with loss of taste or smell, although this is only present in 20% or 25% of covid cases at present, according to Peiró.

“It is indistinguishable from any other respiratory virus image. In fact, If antigen or PCR testing is not done, we would not know which virus it is.. In some cases there is diarrhea, which sometimes also appears in the flu. But in general, right now, if a respiratory condition arises, the logic is to think that it is covid.

flu symptoms


According to the expert, the vast majority of people infected with covid do not even know or realize when they are going to hospital for a scheduled operation.

“In reality between a 20% o 25% of people have no symptoms. Others have very minor symptoms such as a runny nose, mild sore throat that they might think is allergic or whatever and they test positive. Covid can simulate virtually any condition, although at the moment almost anything due to these non-specific symptoms is usually Covid.”

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Quique Bassat, epidemiologist and researcher at ICREA (Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies) of the Barcelona Institute of Global Health, a center promoted by the “La Caixa” Foundation, agrees.

Light images do not have an easy diagnosis. Symptoms are very unspecific. Only if you pass a test can you identify it. Before it was very easy, because it was almost mandatory to pass a test. Everyone was eager to find out if he had been infected for fear of serious illness. This motivated you to seek diagnostic confirmation.

“Now there is no political or social pressure to do it, or personal, because you don’t care if it’s flu or covid if you don’t have a risk of dying,” says Bassat.

What continues to differentiate covid from other respiratory viruses is its infection rate.

“The Covid virus spreads much faster than the flu. In a dinner of 15 people with the new variants, maybe 13 or 14 can be infected and with one flu patient, both side by side will be infected. I simplifies a lot, but This is one of the great risks of covid. It spreads much fasterBassat warns.

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Although currently many people pass covid without major problems because they are vaccinated or have already passed covid, others continue to develop serious conditions and end up in hospital.

“The truth is, we have everything. We have a lot of people who are asymptomatic, with minimal symptoms, people who have a flu-like picture and people who continue to have pneumonia.

“In general, severe cases and some previous illnesses are associated with age. But in principle, the picture is much softer with these variants than in any other wave,” says Peiró.

However, experts point out that the flu can be dangerous for the most vulnerable people, which also applies to covid.

“The flu is a very variable meter. We have calm flu years which leave us, for example, 4,000 or 5,000 deaths in Spain. But we also have bad years which leave us with 15,000 or 20,000 deaths just in Spain”, he explains.

The flu is not trivial, no matter how people say it sometimes. If people want to see the flu as commonplace, they can see covid as the flu, but the flu is not commonplace. The Covid is not trivial, especially among the elderly or vulnerable people. For very young people, probably like the flu, the risks are very low. But older people should not take it as something trivial,” he warns.

“In addition, it must be taken into account that the volume of infected people is so large that even if the serious cases, in proportion to those that exist, are not numerous, when there are many cases, they end up giving a lot of serious cases, which are the ones we see in hospitals and in intensive care units. Although the disease is less severe, there are many people infected and many people who end up in the hospital. “

In this way, the most vulnerable must continue to protect themselves as is the case with the flu.

“The flu kills the vulnerable, it does not kill healthy people. The flu mainly affects the chronically ill and those over 65. This is why these populations are vaccinated.

“When all this communication effort was made to try to do the covid flu, the idea was to get the same message across: that We only have to worry about the most vulnerable, because they are the ones who will continue to be at risk despite vaccination.. They are the ones who are currently dying in hospitals”, explains Basset.

The key is vaccination

Although the cases we see now are mostly mild, upper respiratory tract, nothing serious and with symptoms similar to the flu or a cold, this is due not only to new variants of the virus, but also to vaccines, experts say. . .

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“The virus is now very mild, but because we are vaccinated. The virus has also changed, but we can be more relaxed because by being vaccinated we already see such serious cases around us,” says Bassat.

The crux of the matter isn’t whether or not it’s like the flu. All variants are different from the others. The fact is that we are vaccinated. This is what changes the outlook. Each of the new variants can cause severe disease in unvaccinated people. There’s a very high percentage of the population vaccinated and that’s why it looks benign.”

The covid will continue to change and we will continue to register waves, at least for a season.

“We have more and more reinfections. The new variants easily escape the immunity that covid left you with another variant. This means that the waves are not going to drop,” says Peiró.

In principle, experts expect the new variants are not more seriousbut it’s hard to know.

“There may be severe variants, although these are thought to be less severe. Largely because the population will become increasingly infected, they will be immune to having passed covid or having carried two, three or four doses of vaccine.”

“However, there is no rule that says the variants become less severe. There is a rule that says we are more and more immune. The population is much more protected,” says Peiró.

Vaccines continue to work dramatically to prevent severe covid, between 85% and 90% according to different studies. To avoid the development of serious illnesses and end up in the hospital. Where they protect less and less is to avoid infection with covid”, adds the expert.

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