Flu vaccine, an ally against COVID-19

Health authorities in the northern hemisphere of the planet urge their citizens to get vaccinated against influenza in the run-up to winter. Experts point out that receiving the dose against the seasonal flu reduces the risk of contagion by coronavirus, the so-called “cross immunity”.

Scientists in Netherlands have indicated that receiving the anti-influenza dose reduces the risk of contagion by COVID-19 by 39 percent, and mortality by 28 percent.

In the study, The Effect of Influenza Vaccination on Trained Immunity: Impact on COVID-19, researchers reported cross-protection between influenza immunization and coronavirus, finding that the quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccine can inducing a “trained immune response, including an enhancement of cytokine responses, after stimulation of human immune cells with SARS-CoV-2.”

COVID-19 outbreaks were also found to be less common among healthcare workers who had injected the anti-flu dose.

“An inactivated quadrivalent influenza vaccine can induce trained immune responses against SARS-CoV-2, which may result in relative protection against COVID-19,” the authors noted.

In that sense, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has confirmed that there is a lower risk of dying from coronavirus, if one is protected against the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, protection against COVID-19 can be received on par with influenza, which will not generate false positives in anti-COVID tests.

What is possible, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is to catch COVID-19 and influenza at the same time. The goal is to prevent a wave of coronavirus with a wave of seasonal flu that saturates health services.

In the 2020-2021 winter season, historically low activity was reported, influenza was practically non-existent, thanks to anti-COVID measures such as the use of a mask and social distancing, but as confinements disappear and economic activities are reactivated, expect more flu cases this season.

Some scientists handle the hypothesis that children fall ill with less severity from coronavirus, due to the wave of immunizations they receive during the first six years of life, the so-called “trained immunity” or “heterologous protection”, which improves the ability to body response. Currently, laboratories of companies such as Sanofi, Pfizer and Moderna are already conducting tests to produce anti-influenza doses developed with messenger RNA technology.


The director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, affirmed that the coronavirus pandemic will end when the world decides and urged a fair distribution of vaccines.

“It is in our hands. We have all the tools we need: effective public health tools and effective medical tools,” he said during the opening of the World Health Summit in Berlin.

However, he criticized that the world “has not used these tools well” and warned that with almost 50,000 deaths a week, not counting the unreported cases, “the pandemic is far from over.”

He noted that the goal of vaccinating 40% of the world’s population can be achieved, but under certain conditions.


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