Mixing Influenza and Coronavirus Should Be Avoided
A Northwestern Medicine pulmonologist who treats COVID-19 disease patients issued an editorial outlining the best defense against influenza, which also may protect people against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Published in the journal Science Advances on May 29, 2020, Dr. Benjamin Singer, at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, examines the epidemiology and biology of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza to help inform preparation strategies for the upcoming 2020-2021 flu season in the Northern Hemisphere.
Dr. Singer identified several factors that could determine the severity of the upcoming flu season, such as the following:
Transmission: Social distancing policies designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 are also effective against the flu. If COVID-19 cases begin to spike in the fall of 2020, re-tightening social distancing measures could help mitigate the early spread of the flu virus to flatten the curves for both viruses.
Vaccination: As we await vaccine trials for COVID-19, we should plan to increase rates of flu shots, particularly among seniors who are more susceptible to both the flu and COVID-19.
Co-infection: We need widespread availability of rapid diagnostics for COVID-19 and other respiratory pathogens because co-infection with another respiratory pathogen, including the flu, occurred in more than 20% of COVID-19-positive patients who presented with a respiratory viral syndrome early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the 2019-2020 seasonal influenza epidemic resulted in tens of thousands of fatalities, many from pneumonia.
“Even in non-pandemic years, the flu and other causes of pneumonia represent the 8th leading cause of death in the USA, and respiratory viruses are the most commonly identified pathogens among hospitalized patients with community-acquired pneumonia,” Dr. Singer concluded.
The CDC has reported a majority of COVID-19 disease fatalities so far in 2020 have been related to seniors, living in care facilities, who were treating co-morbidities, such as diabetes and obesity.
As an example, a study published in JAMA on April 22, 2020, that included 5,700 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the New York City area, the most common comorbidities were hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.
The CDC suggests most people should get an annual flu shot beginning in October each year.
Influenza news published by Precision Vaccinations.