Mask up. Wash up.

Innovating Together

March 1, 2021

No, it’s not just the flu. While we may have heard this ad nauseum the past year, what exactly makes SARS-CoV-2 different than the seasonal flu?

Copan Scientific Director Dr. Susan Sharp broke this down during her recent webinar on COVID-19, explaining that not only is the rate of infectivity much higher with SARS-CoV-2 but it also has a much higher rate of severe disease and mortality.

“In addition, flu patients are most infectious when the symptoms start versus COVID-19 patients who are infectious starting 48 hours before symptoms start,” she explained.

And therein lies the key point, and the basis for all the masked faces — sneezes and coughs aren’t the telltale sign that COVID-19 is lurking from within. The droplets that form when talking, breathing, laughing, or singing could be carrying COVID-19 before someone even knows they’re infected.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome COronaVirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. First labeled as a “novel virus” back in February 2020 when little was known about this disease, the past year has given researchers a lot of data on this deadly disease.

We now know that it’s transmitted through droplets of saliva and mucus that can spread from close personal contact, shaking hands, and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes before washing your hands. To prevent these microscopic droplets from infecting others, the CDC advises remaining six feet from one another and wearing a mask.

And the reasoning behind the 10- to 14-day quarantine? The incubation period for COVID-19 is between two to 14 days, with an average of five days — leaving a nice cushion of time from an unknown date of infection.

Dr. Sharp also dove into the data that led to the lockdowns — older individuals are at severe risk of COVID-19 developing into a serious illness that could require hospitalization and possibly lead to death. In addition, individuals with underlying medical conditions such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, are at an increased risk.

The good news? Unlike at the beginning of the pandemic when testing supplies were low, we now have an adequate supply. Since many of the symptoms are akin to the flu, increased testing will help identify more individuals with COVID-19, enabling them to quarantine and slow the spread.

Couple that with the fact that there are now two FDA emergency-approved vaccines available, and a third in the pipeline. Once vaccine distribution increases, herd immunity rises, and we’ll be closer to climbing out of this pandemic nightmare.

But before that joyous day peaks over the horizon, listen to the experts.

“Until there is adequate vaccine coverage, everyone needs to continue their public health mitigation measures of masking, social distancing, avoiding gatherings outside of your own household and washing hands!” said Dr. Sharp. To view the full webinar, click on the video below.


With a reputation for innovation, COPAN is the leading manufacturer of collection and transport systems in the world.  COPAN’s collaborative approach to pre-analytics has resulted in Flocked Swabs, ESwab™, UTM®: Universal Transport Medium™, and laboratory automation, WASP® and WASPLab®.  COPAN carries a range of microbial sampling products, inoculation loops, and pipettes.  For more information, visit