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Coronavirus vs. the flu: What you need to know

Posted at 7:04 PM, Mar 02, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — As the nation counts more deaths from the coronavirus, doctors are keeping a close eye on both the new illness and a more familiar one.

RTV6 asked doctors at IU Health how the flu compares to the coronavirus. Both can lead to respiratory symptoms and fever, and each poses a greater risk to the elderly population and those with underlying health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

"Right now, coronavirus mortality is 1-to-2%, while flu is 0.1%, so that's scary, and I think the other thing about it that makes people talk is that we just have bunch of stuff we don't know about the virus," IU Health's medical director of infection prevention Dr. Cole Beeler said.

Beeler said doctors are more familiar with treating the flu and many people have had it from the past and know they can make a full recovery.

No vaccination exists yet for the coronavirus, and there is not an antiviral drug to treat it like there is for the flu. Despite that, Beeler still said Hoosiers should remain more concerned with the flu.

"I don't think COVID-19 is something to blow off, but influenza is definitely somewhere we need to keep our eye. We know we have influenza here right now," Beeler said.

Indiana has seen 69 flu-related deaths this season, according to weekly statistics released by the state.

There have been no cases of the coronavirus reported in Indiana.