Difference between Coronavirus and Spanish Flu

Both the Coronavirus and the Spanish Flu are pandemics that had a profound impact on human society when they occurred. But they are both fundamentally different from each other based on a variety of factors

The Spanish Flu was a type of an influenza epidemic that broke out between 1918 and 1920

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus which causes respiratory illness. The first outbreak was reported in 2019.

Difference between Coronavirus and Spanish Flu- UPSC 2021

This article will further highlight the difference between Coronavirus and Spanish Flu within the context of the IAS Exam.

Difference Between Coronavirus and Spanish Flu


Spanish Flu

The first case of Coronavirus was reported in the Wuhan province of China in November 2019 The origin of Spanish Flu is much debated to this day, but its exact origin is still unknown at this point. The first cases began to be reported in 1918 after World War I had ended
The incubation period of Coronavirus ranges from 11 to 14 days  The incubation period for the Spanis flu was recorded from 48 hours to 11 days
The coronavirus had a single strand RNA for a genetic material The Spanish Flu had an RNA material that shares genes similar to that of Bird Flu
People aged above 70, having debilitating medical conditions or those with a weakened immune system are especially vulnerable to the Coronavirus The mortality rate for Spanish Flu was the highest among people aged between 20 and 40
The notable symptom of Coronavirus is dry cough and high fever. It can also severely damage the lungs Spanish Flu symptoms include, sore through, congestion, chills, pains in the body
The Coronavirus is a zoonotic virus first transmitted from animals to humans later evolving to human transmission The Spanish Flu was first believed to have been transmitted from bird to human before the occurrence of human to human transmission
Symptoms are treated with pain killers and supplemental oxygen.  There was no antibiotics or vaccines available to treat those afflicted with the Spanish Flu leading to high mortality rates.

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Difference between Coronavirus and Spanish Flu – Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Spanish Flu and Coranavirus


How long did Spanish flu last?

The influenza pandemic of 1918–19, also called the Spanish flu, lasted between one and two years. The pandemic occurred in three waves, though not simultaneously around the globe. In the Northern Hemisphere, the first wave originated in the spring of 1918, during World War I.

What are some differences between COVID-19 and influenza?

The speed of transmission is an important point of difference between the two viruses. Influenza has a shorter median incubation period (the time from infection to appearance of symptoms) and a shorter serial interval (the time between successive cases) than COVID-19 virus. The serial interval for COVID-19 virus is estimated to be 5-6 days, while for influenza virus, the serial interval is 3 days. This means that influenza can spread faster than COVID-19.

Aspirants can find the complete UPSC Syllabus through the linked article. More exam-related preparation materials will be found through the links given below

Related Links

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