Flu jab 'could help avoid severe Covid-19 side-effects'

·2-min read

Having the flu jab may reduce the likelihood of people experiencing severe Covid-19 side-effects.

A new study has discovered the risk of suffering a stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or sepsis was significantly less for those people who had already received a flu vaccination. The likelihood of needing emergency hospital treatment or spending time in an intensive care unit was also reduced.

“We detected an association that appears to show flu vaccination offers some protection against severe Covid-19 disease,” said Devinder Singh, a senior author on the study and professor of clinical surgery at the University of Miami.

These findings may bring some hope to countries who have struggled to roll out an effective coronavirus vaccine programme and potentially reduce stress on nations that may otherwise be overwhelmed by the stress of Covid-19 and flu on healthcare providers this winter.

Researchers analysed health records of 75,000 Covid-19 patients from countries including the U.S. and U.K. and compared those who had received the flu jab to those who hadn’t. The two groups were closely matched in terms of age, sex, ethnicity and health, as well as lifestyle factors.

Data showed that Covid-19 patients who hadn’t received a flu vaccine were 45 to 58 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke in the four months after their diagnosis. This group were also 36 to 45 per cent more at risk of developing sepsis, and around 40 per cent more likely to develop DVT.

However, experts have warned the flu jab is not an adequate alternative for a Covid-19 vaccine.

“It’s very important to emphasise that we absolutely recommend the Covid-19 vaccine, and in no way suggest the flu vaccine is a substitute to the proper Covid-19 vaccine,” Prof Singh said.

While symptoms of the virus seemed lessened by the flu vaccine, the study found it had no impact on Covid-19 related deaths.

The findings were presented at an online meeting of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

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