The risk of death more than doubled for people who tested positive for both flu and coronavirus, compared to those with Covid-19 alone, a new research from Public Health England (PHE) has revealed.
The study, looking at cases between January and April, also found that those with co-infection of the two viruses were more at risk of severe illness. Most cases of co-infection were in older people and more than half of them died.
Following the result of the latest study, three of the UK’s senior medics – Dr Yvonne Doyle, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam and Dr Nikita Kanani – have urged the people to get vaccinated against flu immediately.
Health secretary Matt Hancock commented: “This year more than ever, it’s vital that those eligible for the flu jab get it this winter, so you can protect yourself, your family and the NHS. We’re pulling out all the stops to prepare for this uniquely challenging winter and we have enough vaccines for 30 million people this year, more than we’ve ever done before.
“With the simultaneous risk of flu and Covid-19, make sure you get your flu jab if you’re eligible, don’t gather in groups larger than 6 and remember ‘Hands Face Space’, so we can look after each other.”
Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: “It is dangerous to dismiss influenza as ‘just’ the flu – it can be extremely serious and can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
“The flu vaccine is more important than ever, to help reduce transmission of flu and protect the nation from the double threat of flu and Covid-19. You may be offered it for the first time this year – it is important that you take up the offer to protect yourself and others.”
Flu is a serious condition that kills, on average, 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises many more.
Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from Covid-19. The free vaccine is more important than ever to help protect the nation from a double threat this winter.
This year, the programme is being expanded to help protect people from flu and ease pressure on the NHS and urgent care services.
The healthcare system is working to provide the free flu vaccines to 30 million people, the highest number on record.