Skip to Main Content

Similarities and Differences Between the Flu and COVID-19

Date: 11/05/20

Superior wants you and your family to stay healthy this season. There are many questions about Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has helpful information about the similarities and differences between flu and COVID-19.

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses. Flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two. While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it.

Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

Some of the differences between COVID-19 and flu can be found below2:

  • Symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.
  • COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu.
  • COVID-19 causes more serious illnesses than flu in some people.
  • COVID-19 can take longer than the flu before people show symptoms.
  • If a person has COVID-19, they may be contagious for a longer period than if they had flu.
  • There is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

Learn more about how to protect yourself and others from the flu this season.
Read more about flu symptoms.
Learn more about how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.  
Read more about COVID-19 symptoms.
Additional flu and COVID-19 information can be found on the Superior HealthPlan website.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Similarities and Differences Between Flu and COVID-19
2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Symptoms of Coronavirus