Flu epidemics could allow the spread of the new coronavirus, suggests a new European study.
Researchers from Belgium, Italy, Norway and Spain have created a mathematical model of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during the first days of the pandemic.
They found a 2.5-fold increase in coronavirus cases during the period when the flu was co-circulating.
The team, led by the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, say the findings suggest the need to increase influenza vaccination not only to prevent influenza, but also to combat the coronavirus, which killed more than 900,000 people worldwide.
A new study, led by the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, has found between a two-fold and a 2.5-fold increase in COVID-19 cases during the co-circulation period of the influenza
The team hypothesizes that people who have recently had the flu are at a higher risk of developing coronavirus. Pictured: Medical staff treat a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 28
Previous research has shown that co-circulating viruses can cause spread or increased severity.
A US study conducted earlier this year found that influenza infection in the respiratory tract may increase the expression of the angiotensin-converting enzyme receptor 2 (ACE2).
It is the receptor that the coronavirus uses to enter and infect human cells before spreading throughout the body.
For the new study, posted on the pre-print server site medRxiv.org, the team looked at four European countries where deaths from COVID-19 peaked between March 2020 and April 2020.
They developed a population-based model of coronavirus cases and deaths, assuming deaths occurred in one percent of all cases.
In addition, the researchers incorporated the severity index, an assessment of the number and severity of control measures such as lockdowns, travel restrictions, and school and business closures.
The results showed a two to 2.5-fold increase in the spread of the coronavirus during the period when the flu and the coronavirus coexisted.
It is not known why the two viruses are linked, but one hypothesis is that people who have recently had the flu are at a higher risk of developing COVID-19.
The team also predicts that those who have received the flu vaccine are at a lower risk of getting an infection with SARS-CoV-2.
For example, in Italy, higher rates of influenza vaccination have been associated with lower rates of death from COVID-19, corresponding author Dr Matthieu Domenech de Cellès of the Max Institute told Reuters. Planck for the biology of infections.
He added that a US study of nearly 11,700 people tested for COVID-19 found that those who had flu shots were less likely to test positive.
None of these studies prove that influenza vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19 or an individual’s risk for it, and other factors could explain the associations.
Still, de Cellès said, ahead of ‘the next’ twindemia ‘of seasonal influenza and COVID-19 in the northern hemisphere,’ our results suggest the need to increase influenza vaccination, ‘which could not only reduce the burden of influenza. but also limit the cases of COVID-19
Health officials have urged Americans to get the flu shot if they haven’t already to better prepare the United States for the coronavirus outbreak.
Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are very similar, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
The vaccine won’t protect people against the new virus, but it may help healthcare workers better detect cases where people have non-specific symptoms, such as fever and cough.
Doctors also add that it could help prevent the public from catching a strain of the flu that makes them more susceptible to the coronavirus.