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Your Covid-19 questions answered

How are Covid-19 and flu viruses similar?

28 March 2022 - 07:00
The flu and Covid-19 viruses both cause respiratory disease, which presents a wide range of illness from asymptomatic or mild through to severe disease and death. File photo.
The flu and Covid-19 viruses both cause respiratory disease, which presents a wide range of illness from asymptomatic or mild through to severe disease and death. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Diego_cervo

As winter approaches, Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa, head of operations at Bonitas medical fund, has explained the similarities between the Covid-19 and flu virus. 

Mkhatshwa, who encouraged South Africans to get a flu vaccine to reduce their chances of severe infection and death, said Covid-19 and flu are similar in disease presentation as both can be mild or severe and not present any symptoms. 

“They both cause respiratory disease, which presents a wide range of illness from asymptomatic or mild through to severe disease and death. Both viruses are transmitted by contact, droplets and any material that can carry infection. As a result, the same public health measures such as hand hygiene and social distancing are recommended.”

Mkhatshwa said flu is categorised into influenza A, B and C while Covid-19 is a new form of the recently discovered Sars-CoV-2 , which causes Covid-19. 

He said like Covid-19, the flu virus mutates every year which means people at risk should be vaccinated every year. 

“The flu virus changes every year. This means last year’s vaccine will not keep you safe this year. The vaccine helps your immune system fight off the virus by producing antibodies, which are the soldiers in your body that battle the flu virus,” said Mkhatshwa. 

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