Kilkis wrote:Yes there are many similarities in the symptoms and epidemiological properties of influenza and COVID-19, which is why they tend to be lumped together in people's minds. There are also many differences and quite a few unknowns.
For example it is well known that children are the principle vector in spreading flu by quite a big margin but results SO FAR suggest they are not a major factor in spreading COVID-19. Nobody is sure why nor absolutely certain that it is true. This is the reason that sending children back to school has been so high up the agenda, obviously together with the fact that many politicians have been having to spend a lot of time at home with their children and can't wait to get rid of the little brats. It is possible that sending children back to school would have no effect on the infection rate R. It is possible that it would have a very small effect on R that we can control through test and trace. Those two possibilities strongly suggest that it is worth sending children back to school quickly given the benefits doing so would bring. It is also possible, however, that sending children back to school would cause a large increase in R that it would be difficult to control through test and trace. Nobody actually knows which outcome would prevail. From current knowledge the first or second are most probable but the third cannot be ruled out. As with so many decisions that need to be made regarding COVID-19 and relaxation of lockdown, it often boils down to, "Do you feel lucky, punk" to slightly paraphrase Dirty Harry.
Biologically both influenza viruses and COVID-19 consist of single strands of RNA, ssRNA, wrapped in a lipid shell. The genomes of all Coronviruses are classed as positive single strand RNA, +ssRNA, while the genome of all Influenza viruses are classed as negative, -ssRNA. The polarity of the single strand RNA affects how it reproduces. Positive and negative in this sense are nothing to do with electrical charge, just a way of describing the nature of the genome. Once you get past that difference and delve into greater detail my "back of the bike shed" biology knowledge crumbles to dust.
That was a bit of luck thank God for bike sheds