Since COVID-19 signs – fever, cough, aches – are just like flu signs, it’s tempting to check the two.
Actually, the new UK Well being Secretary, Sajid Javid, lately stated: “We must study to simply accept the existence of COVID-19 and discover methods to cope with it, simply as we already do with the flu.”
However have we chosen the improper illness to check to COVID-19?
Exterior of a pandemic, we settle for that seasonal flu is an an infection that anybody can get.
We solely vaccinate those that are significantly liable to problems and treat folks with critical unwanted side effects, resembling pneumonia. In any other case, individuals are left to thoughts their very own enterprise.
World deaths from flu-related sicknesses sometimes quantity round 400,000 a yr.
Whereas we want to seek out some method to stay with COVID-19, the numbers counsel that we are nonetheless a good distance from having the ability to treat it the identical manner.
There have been greater than 180 million instances worldwide since the starting of 2020, and at the least four million folks have died due to the illness.
Along with this, we are nonetheless not positive of the precise impact of COVID-19 delayto, However long-lasting signs are widespread, and one in 10 folks nonetheless have the illness 12 weeks after an infection.
At the moment, the well being impact of COVID-19 in the inhabitants is way larger than that of the flu.
We additionally know that COVID-19 is extra contagious. We might be positive of this as a result of throughout the final 18 months the measures to regulate the illness have decreased flu instances to nearly none, however they’ve clearly not been as efficient in stopping the unfold of the coronavirus.
Instances had been near zero in the southern hemisphere throughout its winter in mid-2020 and once more in Europe and North America between November 2020 and March 2021. Even in nations with excessive charges of COVID-19, resembling South Africa and the United Kingdom , in winter there have been hardly any instances of flu.
All of this means that utilizing strategies sometimes used to struggle the flu could have fairly a special impact on COVID-19. Treating it like the flu will end result in many extra instances and deaths, and way more persistent sickness than is seen in a typical flu season.
After all, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, shares some traits with influenza viruses, which makes it tempting to check them.
COVID-19 is a way more contagious illness than the flu. (Photograph: .)
About 20% of individuals do not have any signs when contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, and many individuals contaminated with the flu virus additionally do not get sick.
Each viruses are liable to many mutations. And with each ailments, older folks and folks with weakened immune methods are at increased threat of great sickness than wholesome younger adults, and infections unfold quickly in nursing properties, hospital wards, and faculties. .
However many of those traits are additionally shared by one other germ: the norovirus. Additionally could also be asymptomatic in some folks and mutates shortly: Completely different strains of norovirus have been discovered circulating in the identical hospital throughout a season.
Actually, because it spreads, norovirus typically adjustments a lot that normal exams can not acknowledge the variations which have advanced.
Most individuals with symptomatic norovirus infections have diarrhea, however some additionally expertise vomiting violent (that are ejected as if it had been a projectile).
This creates a virus crammed spray that spreads by way of any room and leaves it on surfaces, ready for others to select it up, as with respiratory viruses.
COVID-19 additionally causes diarrhea in some sufferers. The flu is not the solely viral sickness COVID-19 might be in comparison with.
Evaluate to plan
Equally, there are various variations between SARS-CoV-2 and norovirus, so why attempt to make a comparability?
Norovirus causes violent vomiting. (Photograph: .)
Effectively, as vaccines and different measures management the virus, extra and extra components of the world will be part of others the place lockdowns have been lifted, social distancing guidelines have been relaxed, and it’s protected to go away the home with out sporting one. face masks.
However we should nonetheless anticipate COVID-19 outbreaks in the coming years and we should have plans to cope with them as they come up.
Realizing what we learn about these viruses, these plans should think about controlling SARS-CoV-2 extra as we would management norovirus than flu.
With norovirus, we preserve contaminated folks away from others. We ask mother and father whose youngsters have signs that do not take them to the college. And in hospitals and nursing properties, norovirus sufferers are cared for individually from others, workers use EPP to guard themselves and surfaces are cleaned in deep.
The administration of covid-19 in the future should be interventionist in this sense. It should be extra like dwelling with norovirus than the flu.
In the meantime, we have developed some good hygiene habits throughout the pandemic, resembling wash our fingers slightly extra typically and ventilate higher buildings.
The pandemic has helped us develop good habits, like washing our fingers extra typically. (Photograph: .)
Those that can use a mtoscarilla they should think about persevering with to put on it indoors and on public transportation.
These easy measures should assist cease the unfold of many viral ailments, be it influenza, norovirus or COVID-19, earlier than extra necessary interventions are wanted.
* This text was initially printed on The Dialog. Click on right here to learn the authentic model.
* Sarah Pitt is Professor of Microbiology and Biomedical Science Apply at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Brigthon College, UK.
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