Key Differences Between Norovirus and Coronavirus

The year 2021 saw the rise of the norovirus—also known as the vomiting bug or stomach bug. There were outbreaks in many countries, including in China, the USA, and the UK. Let’s clarify some of the similarities and differences between norovirus and coronavirus.

Norovirus research

MDPI hosts many research studies related to norovirus. ‘Norovirus Protease Structure and Antivirals Development’, a paper from Texas, USA, published in October 2021, is a promising study which takes an important step towards the conception of an effective norovirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, ‘Norovirus Epidemiology and Genetic Diversity in Leipzig, Germany during 2013–2017’ is a useful case study of the genotypes that can infect people depending on age and other factors.

MDPI greatly encourages norovirus research in the face of the COVID-19 situation.

An unforeseen consequence of the pandemic is that it has raised awareness of other biological threats. Unfortunately, however, it has also increased the vulnerability of populations and has, therefore, made people more susceptible to experiencing worse symptoms.

Vulnerable populations may face complications, for example, if they are infected with both viruses at the same time. Yet, there is much confusion about the differences between the two viruses. Often, the symptoms can be confused.

Norovirus and coronavirus

Below are some key similarities and differences.



  • Norovirus was discovered in 1929, whereas COVID-19 was discovered in 2019;
  • Norovirus is usually spread by faecal particles, whereas COVID-19 is contracted via exposure to respiratory droplets;
  • There is no vaccine for norovirus, whereas many vaccines exist for COVID-19;
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 typically last around 2 weeks, whereas norovirus sufferers usually recover in 2 days;
  • While the majority of COVID-19 fatalities are among the elderly, norovirus fatalities are higher among infants in emergent nations;
  • COVID-19 is considered more deadly. Norovirus kills 200,000 people each year, whereas COVID-19 has killed 6 million to date;
  • They belong to different families; norovirus belongs to the Caliciviridae viral family, and COVID-19 belongs to Coronaviridae.

Further reading

If you want to learn more about viruses, why not start with our article How and Why Virus Variants Emerge?

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