Since the pandemic began two years ago, a host of new words and phrases have found themselves cropping up in our conversations. From social distancing to Omicron, quarantine and Pfizer, it seems there's always another pandemic-related term to be getting our heads around. And the latest on that list is 'flurona' – the first case of which has just been reported. But, what actually is flurona, and should we be worried about it?
Flurona, as the name suggests, is a combination of the words 'influenza' and 'coronavirus' and is a term that recently emerged, after the first patient (a young, unvaccinated Israeli woman) was diagnosed with the rare double infection.
"Flurona is a term which has started to be used to describe when someone has a COVID-19 and influenza (flu) infection at the same time," Dr Rachel Ward, GP and BBC Breakfast doctor, explains to Cosmopolitan UK. "With high circulating levels of COVID, as we enter the main flu season we expect to potentially see more people with both infections."
Despite the predicted rise in flurona cases as we head deeper into the cold winter months, Dr Ward says there's no need to panic, given that further research is still needed. That's not to say we should ditch our masks and hand sanitiser altogether though, with extra precautions still necessary to help reduce the strain on the NHS.
"We have not seen enough cases of COVID and flu infection at this stage to fully understand how they impact," she adds. "But previous concern was that someone with both infections could become more unwell than if they had one infection. There is also a concern that if we have a bad flu season, there will be additional pressure on hospitals due to flu related admissions, while they are already stretched with COVID cases."
So, how can we best protect ourselves? "People who have had both flu and COVID vaccinations are much less likely to experience this [flurona] which is one the reasons we have been encouraging people to get both vaccines this year," points out Dr Ward. "At this stage, the best protection is to ensure you are fully vaccinated for COVID and flu to reduce your chance of getting either illness and reduce the severity of symptoms if you do get it."
"All adults are eligible for three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in UK," Dr Ward reminds us. "At risk groups can get their flu vaccine at their GP (see NHS website) but even if you do not fall into that category, you can pay a small fee to get a flu jab at a pharmacy."
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