Difference Between Coronavirus and RSV

Coronavirus and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) are two different respiratory viruses that can cause similar symptoms such as coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. However, there are significant differences between the two viruses that make them distinct from each other.

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 is RSV?

Pneumoviruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause respiratory issues in young children and infants.

  • Symptoms and complications − Initially, those infected with RSV have symptoms related to their upper respiratory tracts, and later on, they develop wheezing and a cough. Children often have a high temperature and may have trouble breathing. Hospitalization may be necessary. Although it's possible for adults to get RSV, the virus normally only causes symptoms in young children.

  • Diagnosis − Although physical signs in newborns and young children may point to a respiratory syncytial virus infection, a diagnosis should be confirmed by RT-PCR or an antigen test

  • Transmission − Infectious respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces are two ways in which children might catch illnesses from other children and newborns.

  • Risk factors − Infants and toddlers, especially those who live in close proximity to ill people, are especially vulnerable. RSV poses a particularly serious threat to premature newborns and youngsters with impaired immune systems or chronic illnesses.

  • Treatment and prevention − Drugs are frequently used to reduce inflammation and open airways. Medications like corticosteroids and bronchodilators can aid in this regard. We may prevent the spread of disease by not interacting with sick individuals, washing our hands often, and sanitising frequently used surfaces.

Differences: Coronavirus and RSV

The following table highlights the major differences between Coronavirus and RSV −





Covid-19, or the coronavirus, is a recently identified respiratory virus.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a widespread virus that primarily affects young children and babies.

Age most impacted

Covid-19 mostly affects adults, especially those over the age of 65 or 70, who often suffer from more severe symptoms.

Usually, newborns and younger children (under the age of 5) get sick from RSV.

Incubation period

It might take up to two weeks after exposure for symptoms of the coronavirus Covid-19 to show.

The incubation period for RSV is roughly six days.


Around 80% of infected persons will have fever, and they may also get a sore throat, dry cough, and shortness of breath from the Covid-19 virus

Wheezing, coughing, and occasionally trouble breathing are all symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).


It is thought that the highly infectious Covid-19 virus is transferred when ill persons touch surfaces after coughing or sneezing.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is transmitted by respiratory secretions.


Covid-19 is treated using a supportive approach, and supplemental oxygen may be necessary if the patient's lungs become severely damaged.

Those with RSV infection are treated with corticosteroids and bronchodilators.


Covid-19 mortality rate is age- dependent, with the largest deaths happening in the oldest persons. Those over the age of 80 have the highest chance of dying from this virus, while children have the lowest.

Several researchers have speculated that our current understanding of the mortality rate due to RSV is inaccurate.


While coronavirus and RSV share similar symptoms, they are two distinct respiratory viruses that differ in their origin, spread, and severity of symptoms. Coronavirus is a newly emerged virus that can cause severe respiratory illness, while RSV is a well-known respiratory virus that primarily affects children and causes mild to moderate illness. It is important to seek medical attention if you have symptoms of either virus and to take measures to prevent the spread of both viruses.

Updated on: 17-Apr-2023


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