Why Living With Covid
Would Not Be the Same As Flu
Ian Sample 伊恩·桑普尔
As England prepares to ease coronavirus restrictions further， the messaging from ministers has changed. We have reached， it seems， a tipping point in the pandemic where rules will be replaced by personal decisions. The mantra now is about living with coronavirus，much as we do with seasonal flu.
The pandemic has invited countless comparisons between coronavirus and influenza and the diseases do have some features in common. Both are contagious， potentially lethal respiratory viruses. They can spread through aerosols， droplets and contaminated surfaces. And they share some of the same symptoms in the form of fever， cough， headaches and fatigue.
But there are striking differences between coronavirus and flu that matter for public health. Coronavirus spreads faster than influenza and can cause far more serious illness. The symptoms of coronavirus can take longer to show， and people tend to be contagious for longer， making them more prone to passing it on.
Coronavirus is more lethal than influenza， largely because vulnerability to the disease rockets in older people.
Coronavirus vaccines should have a greater proportional impact on Covid deaths. The vaccination programme has driven Covid deaths down substantially.
But the vaccines do much more to prevent death than transmission of the virus，so cases of Covid are expected to rise for some time yet. The larger the epidemic grows， the more chance the virus has of finding vulnerable people who have not had their shots， or are not sufficiently protected by the vaccine. While the vaccines dramatically weaken the link between cases and deaths，they are unlikely to break it entirely.
Every year， a comprehensive global surveillance network detects which variants of influenza are in circulation and most likely to pose a threat in the following season. That information determines which strains go into the annual flu vaccines that are then rolled out in established campaigns.
There is no such global system for coronavirus yet. And despite the well-oiled machine that protects the world from flu， the death toll from the virus in a typical year is still substantial. Every winter， flu puts enormous stress on the NHS， at times pushing it to breaking point. For the health service， living with coronavirus means learning to endure a double wave each winter as coronavirus and flu arrive together.