Stop downplaying the symptoms of COVID-19

A student argues that people must help educate their loved ones about COVID-19 symptoms.


When a loved one of mine tested positive for COVID-19, I got chills. I couldn’t do anything about it, but sit back, mask up and watch people I care about suffer alone. 

Temple University students must have conversations with their family members and friends to inform them about the severity of contracting COVID-19. By informing them about COVID-19 symptoms compared to flu symptoms, we can limit the spread of misinformation.

However, when a conversation turns into an argument, it is important to listen, understand and acknowledge different perspectives. 

I tried informing some of my unvaccinated family members about the seriousness of COVID-19 and its symptoms, but they had different beliefs. My brother doesn’t think COVID-19 is as dangerous as people believe. It may be more contagious than the flu, but people are overreacting, he said.

COVID-19 symptoms generally take longer for people to show than flu symptoms, and people infected with COVID-19 can be contagious for longer. Most people with the flu will recover in two weeks or less, while long COVID symptoms could last weeks or months afterinfection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The severity of COVID-19 and flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people may have only a few symptoms, and others may be asymptomatic. However, some people with COVID-19 may experience shortness of breath and pneumonia that can last weeks or months after symptoms start, according to the CDC.

People often downplay the symptoms of COVID-19, because they don’t fully realize how deadly this virus can be, said Krys Johnson, an epidemiology professor.

“COVID-19 is about 30 times more deadly than the seasonal flu,” Johnson said.

There is little understanding of how severe the symptoms of COVID-19 are, particularly how quickly people can go from healthy one day to needing a ventilator the next, Johnson added.

“If people had a better understanding of how severe these symptoms are and how quickly they can come on even for people who are young, healthy and have no preexisting conditions, then people would take it more seriously and be more apt to mask up,” Johnson said.

Johnson thinks in the beginning of the pandemic it was easier for people in public health to compare COVID-19 to the flu, because we knew it was airborne, she said.

COVID-19 and the flu are both so widespread that contact tracers don’t have the capacity to trace it. Someone can walk inside a grocery store and never know that they were in contact with people who were infected, Johnson said.

As a result of a surge in COVID-19 cases, Temple has required all students to wear masks indoors this fall semester to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant, The Temple News reported

On Aug. 23 the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for ages 16 years and older, according to the FDA.

While millions of people have already safely received the COVID-19 vaccines, the FDA recognizes that FDA approval of the vaccine may instill more confidence that people should get vaccinated, according to an FDA press release. 

COVID-19 and its Delta variant may never go away. It’s important for students to talk about the difference between symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 to prevent people diminishing the severity of COVID-19 and its symptoms. 

By having conversations, students will fight the misinformation that helps spread this deadly virus.  

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