Difference Between Coronavirus and Cold Symptoms

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused widespread concern and panic globally, leading many people to confuse its symptoms with those of the common cold. While both conditions share some similarities, there are some crucial differences that set them apart.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a pandemic in which a virus is causing respiratory sickness and killing more people than the typical seasonal flu.

  • Genetics and origin of the coronavirus − The covid-19 coronavirus seems to have emerged originally in China, where it spread from an animal to a person. The specific host animal from which the virus originated is still up for contention. It has been discovered to be comparable to the SARS coronavirus, a single-stranded RNA virus with glycoproteins on its outer surface.

  • Symptoms and complications − A high temperature and a dry cough are the most noticeable and noticeable signs of covid-19 infection. However, the infection can cause serious lung damage in some patients, which can make breathing extremely difficult. This results in a lack of oxygen in the blood, which can lead to cardiac issues or failure of numerous organs. Age and health factors affect death rates, yet even young, seemingly healthy people might pass away.

  • Diagnosis − A human sample can be tested using RT-PCR. Some nations now offer drive- through testing locations where anyone may pull up and have a sample taken for testing. The test is effective because it confirms a diagnosis by checking for the virus's unique genetic coding.

  • Transmission − It is believed that the coronavirus known as covid-19 is a zoonosis that was accidentally spread from an animal host to people. Human to human transmission then happened.

  • Risk factors and mortality − Mixing with infected people increases your risk, although you won't notice any signs for a time. While treating patients with covid-19, medical personnel are likewise at danger. Because of this, several nations have adopted policies of social isolation in an effort to lessen interpersonal contact. The largest fatalities occur amongst those older than 70 years and who have other ailments. Diabetes and heart disease appear to enhance the risk of covid-19 problems and mortality.

  • Treatment − Pain relievers are used to manage the symptoms, and the patient may also require fluids to help with the dehydration brought on by the fever, as well as supplementary oxygen for any breathing issues. In really severe circumstances the person may need to be on a ventilator to support breathing.

What are Cold Symptoms?

Rhinoviruses are the most common cause of cold symptoms because they attack the nose and throat.

  • Symptoms and complications − A cold's symptoms include a runny nose, a sore throat, and, most commonly, a cough. Upper respiratory tract sickness is mild and seldom leads to problems. Yet those who are already suffering from a debilitating illness, like AIDS, are more likely to have problems and even death from any treatment they get.

  • Diagnosis − A doctor can make a preliminary diagnosis of the common cold by observing the patient's symptoms. Nevertheless, a PCR test can be utilised to determine that rhinovirus is responsible for the cold symptoms.

  • Transmission − The common cold may spread from one person to another through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

  • Risk factors − Working in a hospital facility or having close contact with someone who is unwell increases your chance of catching a cold.

  • Treatment − Mild pain relievers and antihistamines or decongestants may be helpful in alleviating the symptoms. Most cases of this ailment are minor, and they do resolve on their own after a while.

Differences: Coronavirus and Cold Symptoms

The following table highlights the major differences between Coronavirus and Cold Symptoms −



Cold Symptoms


Coronavirus is an illness caused by a virus that is named 2019- nCoV.

Cold symptoms are due to the cold virus named rhinovirus.

Incubation period

Coronavirus incubation varies from about 2 days to 14 days.

Incubation for the common cold is from 24 hours up to 72 hours before symptoms appear.


An rRT-PCR molecular test looking for genetic material is used for diagnosing coronavirus.

A RT-PCR test can be used in a similar way but looking for the genes of rhinovirus when diagnosing a cold.


Coronavirus has severe symptoms of fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and frequently the person does develop pneumonia.

Cold symptoms include a sore throat, cough, and runny nose, and the condition is usually a mild illness.


Coronavirus transmission is from one individual to another via respiratory secretions and is thought to have come from some type of animal host.

Cold symptoms happen when people catch a cold from sick and infected individuals via infected respiratory droplets.


Coronavirus treatment is mainly supportive, sometimes people need to be given extra oxygen and there is some evidence antivirals may help.

Cold symptoms are treated using pain killers and decongestants or antihistamines.


About 2 in 100 people with coronavirus die.

It is extremely rare for someone with a cold to die unless they are in a very weak state such as someone who has AIDS.


While COVID-19 and the common cold share some similar symptoms, there are crucial differences that set them apart. COVID-19 is a more severe illness that can lead to hospitalization and death, while the common cold is a mild illness that can be treated with over- the-counter medications and rest. It is important to be aware of these differences to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to take the necessary precautions to protect oneself and others.

Updated on: 17-Apr-2023


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