In times of coronavirus infection, any cough, sneeze, or headache becomes an automatic alert for covid-19. However, the arrival of cold times increases the spread of viruses that cause influenza and colds, symptoms whose symptoms can easily be confused with the disease that weighs on the Brazilian health system.
Cold, influenza and Covid-19 virus are diseases characterized by respiratory infections, but with different etiological factors. SARS-CoV-2, from the family of coronaviruses, is responsible for Covid-19, while influenza viruses cause influenza.
Different strains (types) of influenza viruses are spread year after year. “Influenza in humans is a type A and B, and inside A, there is influenza A (H1N1), which caused the 2009 pandemic,” explains Daniel Wagner, an infectious disease specialist at Santa Catarina Hospital.
The common cold, in turn, can be caused by different viruses, the most common of which is the rhinovirus.
Wagner adds, “All of them affect the respiratory system, but some of them can generate multiple systemic diseases. We know that Covid-19, despite its name as a respiratory disease, is a multi-system disease, in which several members participate.” According to the doctor, influenza can also be multi-organ in more severe cases, although the respiratory condition predominates.
“The common cold, on the other hand, is a disease that usually has symptoms in the respiratory system and upper airways, such as a runny nose, stuffy nose, sore throat, sometimes a dry cough, and at worst, general malaise,” says the infection specialist. .
Cold symptoms are limited to the nose and throat, which is an important point in differentiating respiratory diseases. Sneezing, stuffy nose and runny nose are very common in the common cold, while they appear less frequently in influenza and the Covid-19 virus.
Fever, fatigue, and cough, in turn, are the most common symptoms of influenza and covid-19. The greatest risk of developing shortness of breath is in the condition caused by the Coronavirus, as this means that the lungs are at risk.
The lack of smell and taste is one of the symptoms that allows the identification of Covid-19 disease more easily, as it is very striking and rare in cases of influenza and cold. However, in general, the signs are very similar.
“ In times when we have a lot of SARS-CoV-2 circulating, with high transmission diversity, every respiratory symptom, even mild, should be considered and investigated as a suspected virus, which requires isolation of the person who developed symptoms and Your contacts, “explains Raquel Stucci, an infectious disease specialist at Unicamp and a consultant to the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases.
The doctor stresses the importance of using well-made masks to fight Covid-19 and isolation in the event of respiratory symptoms. “Even those who are vaccinated should continue to follow the instructions,” he adds.
The flu vaccine is essential in times of a pandemic
The 23rd national influenza vaccination campaign started on April 12 and will run until July 9. Doctors stress the importance of the flu vaccine as a resource for preventing diseases that overburden the health system, as well as conditions that can be confused with those of covid-19.
“We got vaccinated during this campaign period in April so that we can have adequate protection during the virus outbreak, which is the coldest period,” explains Daniel Wagner, an infectious disease specialist at Santa Catarina Hospital.
The public network will provide doses of the trivalent influenza vaccine, produced by the Butantan Institute, to immunize the target audience for the campaign, which includes pregnant women, children, health workers, teachers, the elderly and indigenous peoples, among others. The trivalent vaccine provides protection against influenza A and influenza B viruses.
“The flu vaccine protects from 9 to 12 months, so this is one of the reasons we get vaccinated every year. Another reason is that the flu vaccine is made according to the viruses circulating. The vaccine changes from year to year,” says Raquel Stucci, an infectious disease specialist at Unicamp and Consultant of the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases.
In the event that the vaccination schedule for influenza and Covid-19 coincides, doctors advise to give priority to the covid-19 vaccine. The recommendation is that there should be an interval of at least 14 days between the two vaccinations.
Find out more | Cold, Flu and Covid-19
Colds, influenza, and Covid-19 are three diseases that cause respiratory infection and they are very similar in signs and symptoms.
the cold: It is caused by various viruses, the most famous of which is the rhinovirus.
Stuffy nose (stuffy nose)
Too bad to be
ache: Due to influenza virus (type A and type B are responsible for seasonal epidemics).
Too bad to be
Covid-19: Due to SARS-CoV-2.
Loss of the sense of smell and taste
Fatigue / tiredness
Lack of air
Too bad to be
At the present time of the epidemic, any cold or flu symptoms are considered suspicious of covid-19 and the patient should be in isolation immediately, seeking medical attention via face-to-face consultation or remote counseling.
Why do you need to be vaccinated against influenza every year? Because influenza viruses have different mutations and variants, it is necessary to develop new vaccines each year for the strain (type) of the virus circulating.
There are two types of influenza vaccines offered:
trivalent: It protects against influenza A and influenza B viruses and is available on the public and private health network.
Quadrivalent: It protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses and is only available on the private network. Influenza B virus has a lower turnover than A and the protection provided by both vaccines is valid.
If there is a coincidence in the vaccination schedule against influenza and covid-19, it is recommended to give priority to the covid-19 vaccine. It is recommended that there be a period of time of at least 14 days between the two vaccinations. For people who have been infected with Covid-19, it is recommended to wait about a month after symptoms appear (or a positive PCR result, in asymptomatic cases) before getting a flu shot.
Sources: Daniel Wagner, infectious disease specialist at Santa Catarina Hospital. Raquel Stucci, infectious pathologist, professor at Unicamp and consultant of the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases; World Health Organization; Ministry of Health.