COVID: Flu shot may help lessen coronavirus infection side effects – study

Science and Health
The flu vaccine can be vital for protection against the effects of COVID-19, according to research presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) reported earlier this week. 
Patient data from around the world was analyzed, and the conclusion is that the annual flu shot tends to lead to less strokes, sepsis and blood clots in COVID-19 patients. They were also less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).
The task to vaccinate the world against the coronavirus is underway, but countries with larger populations are not expected to complete the task until 2023.
Still, research shows that the flu vaccine can help lessen the effects of COVID-19, which can be valuable in the overall fight to beat the pandemic.
According to the report, Ms. Susan Taghoiff and her colleagues at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine analyzed date from thousands of COVID-19 patients around the world.

The team screened medical records in the most extensive study of its time to find two groups of 37,377 patients. Patients in the two groups were noted according to factors that could cause severe COVID-19 effects, such as age, gender, ethnicity, smoking and pre-existing health issues.
The first group had received the flu vaccine between two weeks and six months before contracting COVID-19, while the second group had not been vaccinated with the flu shot.
The incidence of extreme effects such as sepsis, strokes, respiratory failure, ICU admission and death within 120 days of COVID-19 diagnosis were then compared in the two groups.
The analysis showed that the group who had not received the flu shot were 20% more likely to be admitted to the ICU.
The likelihood of them visiting the Emergency Department and having strokes was up to 58% higher, while sepsis was up to 45% more likely and the risk of blood clots was up to 40% higher.
It is not yet known how the flu shot protects the patients from the side-effects of COVID-19, according to the authors of the study. They added that more research is needed, but until COVID vaccines are widely available, the flu shot can provide critical protection in countries where vaccination campaigns are slower. 
“Only a small fraction of the world has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to date and, with all the devastation that has occurred due to the pandemic, the global community still needs to find solutions to reduce morbidity and mortality,” Dr. Devinder Singh, the study’s senior author told AAAS.
“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,” he continued.
Ms. Taghoiff warned that despite the apparent benefits, the flu vaccine “is by no means a replacement for the COVID-19 vaccine” and urged everyone “to receive their COVID-19 vaccine if able to.”