Comparison of influenza type A and B with COVID-19: A global systematic review and meta-analysis on clinical, laboratory and radiographic findings

Rev Med Virol. 2020 Oct 9:e2179. doi: 10.1002/rmv.2179. Online ahead of print.


We compared clinical symptoms, laboratory findings, radiographic signs and outcomes of COVID-19 and influenza to identify unique features. Depending on the heterogeneity test, we used either random or fixed-effect models to analyse the appropriateness of the pooled results. Overall, 540 articles included in this study; 75,164 cases of COVID-19 (157 studies), 113,818 influenza type A (251 studies) and 9266 influenza type B patients (47 studies) were included. Runny nose, dyspnoea, sore throat and rhinorrhoea were less frequent symptoms in COVID-19 cases (14%, 15%, 11.5% and 9.5%, respectively) in comparison to influenza type A (70%, 45.5%, 49% and 44.5%, respectively) and type B (74%, 33%, 38% and 49%, respectively). Most of the patients with COVID-19 had abnormal chest radiology (84%, p < 0.001) in comparison to influenza type A (57%, p < 0.001) and B (33%, p < 0.001). The incubation period in COVID-19 (6.4 days estimated) was longer than influenza type A (3.4 days). Likewise, the duration of hospitalization in COVID-19 patients (14 days) was longer than influenza type A (6.5 days) and influenza type B (6.7 days). Case fatality rate of hospitalized patients in COVID-19 (6.5%, p < 0.001), influenza type A (6%, p < 0.001) and influenza type B was 3%(p < 0.001). The results showed that COVID-19 and influenza had many differences in clinical manifestations and radiographic findings. Due to the lack of effective medication or vaccine for COVID-19, timely detection of this viral infection and distinguishing from influenza are very important.

PMID:33035373 | DOI:10.1002/rmv.2179