High temperature, coughing and a sore throat - though these are the symptoms of the common flu, they’re also the symptoms of the latest coronavirus: COVID-19. With these common symptoms, as well as the fact they’re both contracted in similar ways, it’s understandable why people are finding it difficult to figure out the difference between the two - and if there is one.

Let’s discuss a question that deserves an answer: Is the coronavirus worse than the flu?

Is The Coronavirus Worse Than The Flu?

As previously mentioned, COVID-19 and the flu have a stark amount of similarities - these include some similar signs and symptoms as well as the way in which they’re contracted.

That being said, if we’re focusing on the fatality of both viruses when it comes to which is ‘worse’ - WHO estimate that the coronavirus has a current fatality rate of 1%; this makes it potentially 10 times more deadly than the flu where the fatality rate typically sits at around 0.1% [1].

What’s the difference between the coronavirus and the flu?

COVID-19 is a part of the family of coronaviruses which can cause illness in animals or humans. It affects the lungs and airways and can cause mild to severe symptoms in those affected. At the moment, there’s no vaccine for this virus [2].

Influenza, also referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It affects the nose, throat and in some cases, the lungs. The flu can be prevented by getting the flu vaccine each year [3].

The primary difference between both is the virus that causes them - COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus while the flu is caused by the Influenza virus. In addition to that, although both seem to bring with them similar symptoms - COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath which isn’t a symptom of the flu [4].

We can’t stress the importance of protecting both yourself and your loved ones from contracting and spreading COVID-19.

The greatest way to do this is to follow some simple steps, these include[4]:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Wear a facemask if you’re sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly


  1. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 46. Online: Who.int, 2020
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Online: Cdc.gov, 2020
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza (Flu). Online: Cdc.gov, 2019
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities. Online: Cdc.gov, 2020