A recent study has revealed that people who are vaccinated against influenza may be partially protected against various severe effects of coronavirus and there are low possibilities for emergency care.
The study has been conducted over 75,000 COVID-19 patients from all around the world and it strongly suggests that the annual flu shot reduces the risk of stroke, sepsis and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in patients with COVID-19.
According to the researchers, the patients with coronavirus who had been vaccinated against flu were also less likely to visit the emergency department and be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).
Devinder Singh, a professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in the US said, “This finding is particularly significant because the pandemic is straining resources in many parts of the world.”
“Therefore, our research — if validated by prospective randomized clinical trials — has the potential to reduce the worldwide burden of disease,” said Singh, the study’s senior author.
However, there are also studies that suggest that the flu vaccine may give protection against COVID-19 which means that it could be a valuable weapon in the fight against the current pandemic.
The researchers, in the largest study of its kind, screened de-identified electronic health records held on the TriNetX research database of over 70 million patients to identify two groups of 37,377 patients. And there were two groups that were matched for the factors that could affect their risk of serious COVID-19 that include age, gender, ethnicity, smoking and health problems such as diabetes, obesity, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Members of the first group had received the flu vaccine between two weeks and six months before being diagnosed with coronavirus. Those in the second group were not vaccinated against flu and also had COVID-19.
Patients from different countries including the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Israel, and Singapore were used for the study and the research was presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), held online.
The incidence of 15 adverse outcomes, including sepsis, strokes, DVT, and acute respiratory failure, within 120 days of testing positive for COVID-19 was then compared between the two groups. The examination revealed that those who had the flu jab were up to 20 percent who were more likely to have been admitted to the ICU.
The researchers said the risk of death was not reduced though.
They were also up to 58 percent more likely to visit the Emergency Department, up to 45 percent more likely to develop sepsis, up to 58 percent more likely to have a stroke, and up to 40 percent more likely to have DVT.
However, the researchers said it is not known exactly how the flu jab provides protection against COVID-19.
But most of the theories center around the influenza vaccine boosting the native immune system which are the general defenses we are born with that are not tailored to any particular illness, they said.
The results of the study strongly suggest that the flu vaccine protects against several effects of COVID-19.
The researchers noted that more research is needed to prove and better understand the possible connection but, in the future, the flu shot could be used to help provide increased protection in countries where the coronavirus vaccine is in short supply.
Susan Taghioff, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said, “Influenza vaccination may even benefit individuals hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to the newness of the technology.”
“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,” Taghioff added.