Winter is just around the corner — a season that has long been associated with cases of the flu across the country. But this winter is anything but typical. In fact, health care leaders are increasingly worried that flu cases, coupled with the continued spread of COVID-19, will create a combination that has been coined as the “twindemic” – a combination of colliding viruses with very similar symptoms that can be difficult to distinguish. On top of all this, we’re starting to see an unseasonably early surge in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) illness – making the winter ahead a somewhat treacherous one to navigate from a ‘staying healthy’ perspective.
What’s the difference between the flu and COVID-19?
Although the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, such as fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, and fatigue, they are caused by different viruses: for flu, influenza viruses, and for COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2. Most often, symptoms of the flu can last from 1-4 days after infection, while symptoms of COVID-19 can last from 2-14 days after infection, meaning individuals with COVID-19 may be contagious for a longer period of time.
This infographic helps demonstrate the impact of flu and COVID-19 on the U.S population:
What can you do to prepare or prevent getting flu or COVID this winter?
The best way to prepare is to protect yourself and your family. Schedule your flu shot. Make sure you and everyone in your home is up-to-date on your COVID-19 shots and boosters. Be conscious of large gatherings and avoid close contact, particularly close contact with those who are sick. Staying aware, and making smart choices about nutrition and hygiene will all help protect you and your family this season.
How does an early and accurate diagnosis help?
Although flu and COVID-19 may feel the same, timely differential diagnosis of influenza versus COVID-19 is important because the two viruses can be treated with distinct FDA-authorized antiviral medications, which must be administered soon after infection to be the most effective. Early treatment for both flu and COVID-19 can reduce an individual’s risk of getting seriously ill.
Why does testing matter?
Testing is needed to understand which virus someone is infected with, and at-home testing solutions can help those in need get access to a timely diagnosis. Today, we have separate tests for flu and COVID-19, however, in the not-so-distant future, we’re working toward these tests being combined in order to provide a convenient and accurate diagnoses. For this reason and more, we submitted an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorization for Cue® Flu + COVID-19 Molecular Test for at-home and point-of-care use.
The Impact of Flu and COVID-19
Experts are warning that this year’s respiratory infection season could be especially severe, placing a significant burden on the healthcare system due to the combined threat of a resurgent flu and new COVID-19 variants. For business leaders, school administrators and heads of already burdened healthcare systems, it’s clear that keeping communities healthy must be and is a priority. Fortunately, at-home testing solutions can help inform individuals about their diagnosis, help infected individuals treat their illness, and mitigate the impact of a potential “twindemic.”
This information is presented in summary form, general in nature, and for informational purposes only. Content is not intended nor recommended to substitute for professional medical advice. For personal medical advice, always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. The tests offered are subject to change and subject to availability. Due to state restrictions, this Cue Product is not available for individuals located in the state of New York. Other state restrictions may apply for specific tests. Please refer to our support page for detailed product terms and conditions.