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Annual Flu Vaccine Reduces Risk of Severe COVID-19 Effects

Something protective that we all can do! A large study of patients found that getting an annual flu shot appears to provide some protection from severe COVID-19 effects.

The study suggested that the annual flu vaccine reduces the risks of stroke, sepsis, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in persons with COVID-19. These patients are also less likely to visit the emergency department and to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) in persons with COVID-19.

The Univ. of Miami researchers looked at medical records of 74,754 persons throughout the world with COVID-19. Patients either received a flu shot within the 6 months to 2 weeks before receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis, or no flu shot.

Why is this occurring? The researchers propose a number of reasons for the protective effect, including that perhaps the flu vaccine stimulates the activation of natural killer cells (these cells are decreased in moderate and severe COVID-19 cases).

From Science Daily: Flu shot protects against severe effects of COVID-19, study finds

In a newly published study, physician-scientists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have shown that the flu vaccine may provide vital protection against COVID-19.

 ....This was the largest study of its kind and analyzed deidentified patient records from around the world, which strongly suggested that the annual flu shot reduces the risks of stroke, sepsis, and DVT in patients with COVID-19. Patients with COVID-19 who had been vaccinated against the flu were also significantly less likely to visit the emergency department and be admitted to the intensive care unit.

The study was conducted using patient records from a number of countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Italy, Israel and Singapore. The team screened de-identified electronic health records on the TriNetX research database for more than 70 million patients to identify two groups of 37,377 patients. The two patient groups were then matched for factors that could influence their risk of susceptibility to severe COVID-19, including but not limited to age, gender, ethnicity, smoking, and health problems such as diabetes, obesity, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Members of the first study group had received the flu vaccine two weeks to six months prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19. Those in the second group also had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis but were not vaccinated against the flu. The incidence of 15 adverse outcomes (sepsis; strokes; deep vein thrombosis or DVT; pulmonary embolism; acute respiratory failure; acute respiratory distress syndrome; arthralgia or joint pain; renal failure; anorexia; heart attack; pneumonia; emergency department visits; hospital admission; ICU admission; and death) within 30, 60, 90 and 120 days of testing positive for COVID-19 were then compared between the two groups.

The analysis revealed that those who had not had the flu shot were significantly more likely (up to 20% more likely) to have been admitted to the ICU. They were also significantly more likely to visit the emergency department (up to 58% more likely), to develop sepsis (up to 45% more likely), to have a stroke (up to 58% more likely) and a DVT (up to 40% more likely). The risk of death was not reduced.

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