What you need to know:
- This finding is particularly significantly because the pandemic is straining resources in many parts of the world.
- This comes after researchers in the United States of America analysed data from about 75,000 Covid-19 patients
A new study shows that individuals who are vaccinated against influenza could be partially protected against some severe effects of the coronavirus disease.
The large-scale study further indicates that those who have received the influenza jab are less likely to need emergency care.
This comes after researchers in the United States of America analysed data from about 75,000 Covid-19 patients.
Their findings suggest that the annual flu shot cuts down the risk of stroke, sepsis and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in Covid-19 patients.
The scientists screened de-identified electronic health records from the TriNetX research database of over 70 million patients to identify two groups of 37,377 patients.
According to the experts, the two groups were matched for factors that could affect their risk of severe coronavirus infections, including age, gender, ethnicity and smoking, and health problems such as diabetes, obesity and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Members of the first group then received the flu shot between two weeks and six months before being diagnosed with Covid-19 while individuals in the second group also got Covid-19 but were not vaccinated against the flu.
The patients who took part in the study were drawn from the US, Israel, Germany, Singapore, UK and Italy.
From the cases, researchers were met with 15 adverse outcome incedences that comprised of acute respiratory failure, sepsis, stroke and DVT within 120 days of testing positive for Covid-19.
This was compared between the two groups, with findings recently presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) revealed that those who had not had the jab were up to 20 per cent more likely to have been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).
The data further showed that 58 per cent of the patients were more likely to become emergency cases, with up to 45 per cent more likely to develop sepsis, up to 58 per cent more likely to have a stroke and up to 40 per cent more likely to have DVT.
The scientists went ahead to concluded that the risk of death was not reduced, adding that their results strongly suggest that the flu vaccine protects against several severe effects of Covid-19.
However, they said it is not known exactly how the flu jab provides protection against the coronavirus disease.
Devinder Singh, a professor at the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine and the study’s senior author said that he is hopeful.
“This finding is particularly significant because the pandemic is straining resources in many parts of the world. Therefore, our research – if validated by prospective randomised clinical trials – has the potential to reduce the worldwide burden of disease,” he said.
Susan Taghioff, from the same university, lauded technology.
“Influenza vaccination may even benefit individuals hesitant to receive a Covid-19 vaccine due to the newness of the technology,” she said.
“Despite this, the influenza vaccine is by no means a replacement for the Covid-19 vaccine and we advocate for everyone to receive their Covid-19 vaccine if able to,” she added.
Since 2020, a number of studies have suggested that the flu vaccine may provide protection against Covid-19 thus becoming a valuable weapon in the fight to end the pandemic.
“Most theories centre around the influenza vaccine boosting the innate immune system (general defences we are born with that are not tailored to any particular illness),” the experts said.
They further noted that more research is needed to prove and better understand the possible link but, in the future, the flu shot could be used to help provide increased protection in countries where the Covid-19 vaccine is in short supply.
In an interview with Healthy Nation, Dr George Njoroge, the chief scientific adviser at Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral & Research Hospital, however, said that the chances of this working might be slim to none.
“It all depends with what the influenza vaccine is doing to improve the immune system with regards to dealing with the coronavirus since influenza is very different from Covid-19. Remember what the vaccine is doing is to elicit antibodies against the virus,” he explained.
“It depends on what they are looking at. That’s why you are seeing the variants become a nuisance. The vaccine that we got, especially the one from AstraZeneca, might not be effective against new variants. The question is what is the influenza actually doing to boost the immunity from Covid-19? ” Dr Njoroge posed.