Video: 4 questions about flu and COVID-19
Spreaker: Dr Rianne van Gageldonk, epidemiologist for respiratory infections
RIANNE VAN GAGELDONK: The symptoms of COVID-19 and flu are similar, but they are two different diseases.
BEELDTEKST: Four questions about flu and COVID-19.
BEELDTEKST: What is the difference between flu and COVID-19?
RIANNE VAN GAGELDONK: Flu is caused by the influenza virus. COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Both are respiratory infections. Both viruses spread through droplets that are released during coughing or sneezing. And both flu and COVID cause cold symptoms and coughing. There are also other symptoms that are more common in COVID. Like a sudden loss of smell and taste. There are some similarities, but these are two different diseases.
BEELDTEKST: Why does one person become very ill, while another does not?
RIANNE VAN GAGELDONK: It depends on the virus, on how virulent it is. We saw the coronavirus shift from the Alpha to the Delta variant. The flu virus is also changing constantly. And it also depends on the person, how ill they become. We know that people with underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, often become more seriously ill, and this also applies to older people.
BEELDTEKST: Why is it a problem when a flu epidemic happens?
RIANNE VAN GAGELDONK: Every time there is a flu epidemic, people have to go to hospital because of the flu, and some people die. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to monitor how the flu develops and keep close track of pressure on the healthcare system. RIVM has been monitoring the spread of the influenza virus since 1970, so we can tell when a flu epidemic emerges.
BEELDTEKST: Why has flu been less common in the past 18 months?
RIANNE VAN GAGELDONK: This is because of the basic measures to control the coronavirus. They are also very effective in preventing the influenza virus from spreading. Like the measures against COVID-19, flu can also be controlled by washing your hands frequently, coughing or sneezing into your elbow and distancing, especially from vulnerable people.
BEELDTEKST: Would you like more information? https://www.rivm.nl/en/flu-and-flu-jab
An RIVM production, December 2021