Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Winter flu jab ‘running out’ as study shows it halves risk of Covid-19 death

Catching the flu doubles your risk of dying of coronavirus, new research reveals.

A Public Health England study found those who got both between January and April were at greater risk of severe illness and death, the Sun reports.

The findings saw the winter flu jab hailed as a "new weapon" with hopes it will slash Covid-19 deaths by a third.

They are already reportedly “running out across the UK” amid fears vulnerable groups could miss out before the winter peak.

Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, said: "If you are in an eligible group, or if you are a front-line health or social care worker, the flu vaccination will help to protect you and your loved ones this winter; that is very important at a time when Covid-19 is an additional threat."

The World Economic Forum has said: "Want to minimise the impact of Covid-19? Get a flu shot.

"Influenza and Covid-19 are both viral diseases spread primarily by the respiratory route.

"As cold weather returns to the Northern Hemisphere and people spend more time indoors, transmission threat for both viruses will increase."

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It comes after two studies of 100,000 people in Italy and Brazil found flu jabs significantly lowered numbers of patients needing intensive care during the pandemic.

Researchers at Milan University in Italy and Sao Paulo University in Brazil, urged all governments to push flu vaccination programmes to protect people during the pandemic.

Peter Openshaw, a respiratory expert at Imperial College London, said: "This is great news and means the UK flu vaccination campaign is even more crucial.

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"These findings, from studies involving large numbers of people, are really important.

"It means the flu jab is now also a weapon in terms of coronavirus prevention – it’s potentially one of the few effective measures we can undertake this winter."

Free flu jabs are currently being offered to 30million Brits as part of the biggest NHS vaccination programme in history.

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The Royal College of GPs urged health secretary Matt Hancock to ensure there were enough winter flu jabs last month.

Doctors should deliver vaccines from their own stock and they can then place orders from mid-October for extra supplies from Government-secured stock to be delivered from November, the health ministry said.

The vaccines will be provided for at-risk groups like 65s and over, pregnant women and those with pre-existing conditions, as well as front-line health and social care workers.

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