Is it realistic to independently distinguish COVID-19 from a common cold?

In Moscow and the regions, statistics on COVID-19 are growing again. Plus, the case is aggravated by the beginning of an increase in the incidence of influenza and ARVI, traditional for this time of year. Epidemiologist Ksenia Shorikova explained to the Svoboda Square correspondent how a new type of infection differs from a common cold, and told what to do if the state of health has deteriorated sharply.

– Tell me, is it possible to independently distinguish COVID-19 from a common cold?

– The new coronavirus infection and the flu really have similar features. Both viruses are respiratory, that is, transmitted from person to person by coughing or sneezing. Since the transmission mechanism is the same, then similar preventive measures can be used: it is not for nothing that we, doctors, urge everyone to wear masks, especially now, when the flu runs the risk of superimposing a new type of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Hand washing is also a great prevention measure, as is the much talked about social distance. This is where the similarities end.

In a coronavirus infection, the incubation period lasts longer – up to 14 days. For flu and ARVI, it averages 2-4 days. During the time until a patient with a coronavirus has not recognized the disease, he can infect about 5-6 people, and a patient with the flu – only one or two people from those with whom he was in contact.

It is clear that in the wake of panic, people may be afraid of any manifestation of the common cold, mistaking it for the coronavirus. But to suspect one thing, and to have a diagnosis is another. The final diagnosis can only be made by a doctor based on the collection of anamnesis – this is how we, doctors, call the procedure for examining a patient, collecting tests and other activities.

– And yet what differences in symptoms can be called obvious?

– The memo was prepared by Rospotrebnadzor, and it is absolutely correct. For example, with a coronavirus, a person never sneezes, and with a cold, very often. A person infected with SARS-CoV-2 only occasionally suffers from a runny nose, and with a cold, as they say, snot flows like a river. Joint pain is common with flu and rare with covid. Also, patients with coronavirus do not always complain of a headache, while with the flu they do it all the time. The list goes on.

But the main difference is still that the coronavirus can be asymptomatic: that is, the patient simply will not feel the disease! This is the main insidiousness and danger of the disease. With the flu, such a number will not work – there will be a clear clinical picture: pain, body aches, sneezing, coughing, and so on.

I repeat, only a doctor can make a diagnosis. Don’t cheat yourself – go to the doctor!

– What to do if you suspect symptoms, feel wild weakness and malaise: stay at home, call an ambulance or go to an appointment, risking infecting others?

– If you suspect you have a disease, and you are sure that you are sick with COVID-19, then you need to stay at home and call a doctor. You cannot go to the clinic yourself so that the virus does not spread further. A local therapist will come to your house, conduct an examination, take an anamnesis, if necessary, take a smear for analysis for covid and issue a sick leave. At home, it is necessary to avoid personal contact with relatives and use a mask, if possible, self-isolate from others.

– Everyone is afraid of the second wave. And what do you think, won’t everyone go to self-isolation in the near future and how necessary is this measure?

– I suggest not to cheat yourself and to judge logically. To begin with, self-isolation is an effective measure against the spread of the epidemic. It was not invented by us, but its power is quite obvious. The main goal is to break the transmission mechanism, stop the spread of the virus. It is difficult to predict the further development of events, especially such a radical measure as self-isolation. Everything will depend on the development of the epidemic process. Cases of COVID-19 diseases are now being recorded among schoolchildren, students and their teachers. It is dangerous to disrupt the educational process, which should not be allowed. If you show in the figure, then one patient who continues to actively communicate, attend events, in five days will infect 2-3 people, and in a month this chain will develop to 406 people. At the same time, those who stayed at home, even if they fell ill themselves, will manage to infect 2-3 people at most. Such is the power of self-isolation! However, it is premature to assume that everyone will sit at home now, as it was in the spring. We are waiting for the development of the situation.

– How do you feel about the idea of ​​universal vaccination against coronavirus?

– The other day I arranged a poll on the social network on the topic “Would you give yourself a vaccine against coronavirus?” The result was this: 66% answered no, and 34% would agree to get vaccinated. Reasons for refusing vaccination against coronavirus, my readers named the previously transferred COVID-19 disease, doubts about the testing procedure; there was also an interesting argument: “We are not crazy yet.” What did you manage to learn about the vaccine itself? The vaccine is called Gam-COVID-Vac (trade name “Sputnik V”). The developer is the National Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology named after N.F. Gamaleya. At the moment, the experiment was carried out on 38 volunteers of both sexes, aged 18 to 60 years. The protective level of antibodies is unknown, as is the duration of protection. As a doctor, I believe the vaccine will continue to research.

Yulia Drogleva, Svoboda Square newspaper, mail-ps@mail.ru
The original article was published in the newspaper “Freedom Square»

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