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What are the Differences Between the Flu and The Coronavirus

Here are my thoughts on the coronavirus this week.  As we seem to be crossing over the large hump of Covid-19 cases, talk is turning to opening up the country.  If you are on Facebook, as I am sure most of you are, the debate is raging hot and heavy and lots of conspiracy theories are surfacing concerning the origins of covid-19, government involvement, constitutional rights of the people, plans for forced mandatory vaccinations, Bill Gates as a villain, inaccurate reporting of cases and mortality numbers, how the flu is worse and of course, the politicizing from both political parties in our country. Whether any of these theories hold any water, time will tell and the historians will have the final say.  That being said, there are at least two absolute truths when discussing the coronavirus.  These two truths will help us make sense of  the drastic measures (whether these measures are determined to be right or wrong) ( I’m not picking sides in this health tip) that we have been going through the last 6 weeks.


Here are the two big differences between the coronavirus and the flu.  1. This virus (Covid-19), when attacking a vulnerable host, goes straight to the respiratory system of the body and the virus damages the respiratory tree of the lungs. This causes inflammation and a cough is the result.  If it gets worse, as in severe cases, the viral infection will go past the airway lining and into the gas exchange units in the lungs.  If they become infected (which happens in severe cases), the lungs produce inflammatory material in the air sacs at the bottom of the lungs.  When the air sacs become inflamed, fluid and inflammatory cells pour into the lungs and that is when it becomes pneumonia. The lungs then cannot get enough oxygen into the blood stream and this is what causes death. 

With the flu, the lung attack is the end result of a body that is not doing a good job fighting the influenza infection.  The flu starts out with fever, chills, body aches, headaches and congestion. If the body’s immune system does not fight off the influenza virus in a timely manner, the congestion can become the lung condition described above and pneumonia can develop. 1/3 of pneumonia cases are a result of a respiratory virus. 

So, the big difference here between the flu and covid-19 is the ability of covid-19 to go straight for the respiratory system as opposed to the flu gradually effecting the respiratory system. The coronavirus cells are like the surface of a spiked ball.  The spikes are viral proteins that quickly dig into the respiratory tract. The covid-19 virus going straight for the lungs in the "target" demographic of elderly, immune compromised, obese and diabetic is very serious and very bad. This is what makes covid-19 worse than the flu virus as far as the target demographic goes. 

#2. The Ro rate (aka pronounced R naught) for covid-19 is much worse than the flu. The Ro rate is an infectious diseases spread ability or reproduction factor. The flu virus typically infects and spreads in a single file line. Meaning, one person infects one person and that one person infects another one person. It's a straight stable line of infection. One to one to one to one. This means very little if you are in a house with a family of five as the flu spreads from one to one to one, your whole house can get the flu. What makes  Covid-19 worse than the flu is its Ro factor is not one infecting one, infecting one.  The Covid-19 has a spread ability factor of one person infecting three people. One person spreads the virus to three and then this turns from  3 to 9 and those 9 spread to 27 and 27 to 81 and so on. The infection or spread rate is not a straight level line like the flu, but an upward fast moving spike or climb.

This shows us why the flu infected 350,000 in the USA from October 2019 to April 2020 (6 months period) and Covid-19 infected 750,000 in just 7 weeks.  With this type of reproduction rate, the issue immediately became were the hospitals going to be able to be prepared for the sudden influx of hundreds of infected patients all at one time?  As I mentioned above, whether right or wrong, political or non-political, the reason to stay at home, social distancing and mask wearing was to slow the rapid rate and spread of infection. After 7 weeks, the viral infection rate appears to have slowed.  

At this point, the controversy can begin and people can argue, was it all the protocols that slowed the virus down it?  Was it natural evolution? Or would doing nothing at all have slowed it down?  In any case, the two truths remain the same.  1.  Covid-19 goes straight for the lungs and can be a huge problem for a vulnerable host with immune system issues or of advanced age.  2.  The Ro (R naught) of covid-19 was a very big concern as it could have blown up the healthcare system with a ton of patients at one time (like in certain areas of NY and NJ). And, please let us not forget how the rapid spread of the virus would and did cause major issues with all of our hero healthcare workers not having enough protective gear to keep them safe.   As for everything else mentioned in the first paragraph,  time will tell.


Pregnancy and Chiropractic:  Scientists believe the virus is not spread in breastmilk, so even if you are infected, continue your plans to breastfeed while using precautions to protect your baby.  Please take extra care to boost immune system function.  Taking daily vitamin c and D is a big help.  Also, please keep up with your pregnancy chiropractic visits. The chiropractor maximize body function and helps your pregancy to be healthier.

Dr J. Zimmerman, Chiropractor Dr. Zimmerman is a practicing chiropractor from Galloway, NJ with 30 years of chiropractic practice.

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