Scientists are now warning that covid could combine with flu this winter to cause a super-infection which increases the risk of death.
According to a report from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) people who contract both viruses will need double the length of hospital stays compared with just covid
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Meanwhile the Academy of Medical Sciences say a potential surge in respiratory viruses this winter could push the NHS to breaking point
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MSN reports: The report warned that social distancing had reduced the circulation of all respiratory viruses and, because of waning population immunity, the next flu season would be worse than usual. A dual infection may also increase the chance of transmitting Covid, scientists fear.
“Co-infections with Sars-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses are expected to occur this winter, with the potential to place pressures on the NHS and care services,” it said.
“Based on animal and clinical data, there is a realistic possibility that co-infection with Sars-CoV-2 and influenza may cause increased disease severity than would be expected if influenza and Sars-CoV-2 acted independently.
“We recommend that individuals with symptomatic respiratory infections self-isolate even if they receive a negative test result for Sars-CoV-2, as this will reduce respiratory virus transmission and potentially societal burden.”
The Nervtag scientists said clinical symptoms of flu and Covid were similar and recommended that laboratories test for both. They said hospitals should also instigate control measures to avoid cross-infection, with flu testing introduced in emergency departments to prevent hospital transmission.
Minutes released on Friday by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show scientists believe co-infection with both viruses “represents a significant challenge” this winter. They said it was vital that people stayed at home if they were unwell, even if testing negative for Covid.
Sage said there was evidence that a co-infection with flu and coronavirus increased the risk of death.
Vaccine manufacturers have already warned that the flu jab may fail to protect people this winter because global Covid surveillance prevented laboratories from gathering sufficient data on dominant variants.
The World Health Organisation made recommendations about what to put in northern hemisphere flu jabs in late February, but the global genetic sequencing of flu had dropped by up to 94 per cent in the months preceding that decision.