Edit

Flu vaccine could cut COVID risk


242 views
(0) Rate now!

Influenza vaccines have a surprising health benefit: they might also prevent COVID-19, particularly in its most severe forms1.

A study of more than 30,000 health-care workers in Qatar found that those who got a flu jab were nearly 90% less likely to develop severe COVID-19 over the next few months, compared with those who hadn’t been recently vaccinated against flu.

The study, which was conducted in late 2020, before the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, is in line with previous work suggesting that ramping up the immune system using influenza vaccines and other jabs could help the body to fend off the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Collateral benefit

In the early months of the pandemic — while COVID-19 vaccines were still in development — researchers were intensely interested in the possibility that existing vaccines might provide some protection against SARS-CoV-2. But collecting strong evidence for such an effect is difficult, because people who seek vaccination for diseases other than COVID-19 might also make other choices that reduce their risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2.

To minimize the impact of this ‘healthy-user effect’, a team led by Laith Jamal Abu-Raddad, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine–Qatar in Doha, analysed the health records of 30,774 medical workers in the country. There is probably less variation in health-related behaviour among such workers than in the general population, reducing — but probably not eliminating — bias, Abu-Raddad says.

The researchers tracked 518 workers who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and matched them to more than 2,000 study participants who had tested negative for the virus. Those who had received an influenza vaccine that season were 30% less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, and 89% less likely to develop severe COVID-19, compared with workers who had not (although the number of severe cases was small in both groups). The study was posted on the medRxiv preprint server on 10 May.

Tags

User Reviews (0)

    No reviews yet!