Skip to main content
Tufts Public Health

How Does COVID-19 Compare with the Flu?

“If COVID-19 becomes widespread in the U.S. and other parts of the world, that will still add up to many people getting exposed to the virus and a large number of people developing severe disease,” said Jonathan Runstadler. Coronavirus illustration: CDC
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in many ways is exactly the type of situation that has motivated Jonathan Runstadler, a professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Cummings School, and his research team in their efforts to keep the world ahead of the next influenza pandemic.

Runstadler leads a team of Tufts researchers who sample animals in the wild and return to the lab to analyze the samples for influenza viruses. Their mission is to better understand the ecology and lifecycle of the flu—as well as what strains are circulating in nature—to help predict and prevent deadly, wholly new strains that arise every decade or so.

Given the many purported similarities between the novel coronavirus and influenza, Tufts Now asked Runstadler about how what we know about regular and pandemic flu might apply to this quickly evolving situation.

Read More