New Delhi: The flu vaccine may provide protection against severe Covid-19, and reduce the risk of stroke, sepsis and blood clots in patients, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Miami.
The researchers presented an analysis of patient data from around the world, during the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), held virtually between 9-12 July this year.
In the largest study of its kind, the team screened anonymised electronic health records of more than 70 million patients from countries including the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Israel and Singapore, to identify two groups of 37,377 patients.
The first group had received the flu vaccine between two weeks and six months, before being diagnosed with Covid. Those in the second group had not been vaccinated against flu before getting Covid.
The researchers found that Covid patients who had been vaccinated against flu were less likely to visit the emergency department or be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of hospitals. However, the risk of death from Covid was not reduced among those who had received flu vaccines.
The researchers cautioned that their findings do not mean that the influenza vaccine is a replacement for the Covid-19 vaccine, and advocated that everyone should get their Covid-19 vaccine whenever they are able to.
Benefits of flu shots for Covid patients
Researchers compared the two groups for 15 adverse outcomes within 120 days of the patients testing positive for Covid. These outcomes included sepsis, stroke, blood clots in veins, heart attack, pneumonia, ICU admission and death.
The analysis revealed that those who had not had the flu shots, were up to 20 per cent more likely to have been admitted to the ICU for Covid.
They were also 58 per cent more likely to visit the emergency department and up to 45 per cent more likely to develop sepsis (because of Covid).
The patients were 58 per cent more likely to have a stroke and up to 40 per cent more likely to develop blood clots.
The researchers said that their results strongly suggest that the flu vaccine protects against several severe effects of Covid-19, although more research is needed to prove and better understand the possible link.
“This finding is particularly significant because the pandemic is straining resources in many parts of the world. Therefore, our research – if validated by prospective randomised clinical trials – has the potential to reduce the worldwide burden of disease,” Devinder Singh, the study’s senior author from the University of Miami, said in a statement.
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