Flu and COVID-19 Co-infection

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Day 164: Stay Safe Minnesota

With the flu season approaching, health officials are worried that how COVID-19 and the flu interact together.

In the MinnPost, health reporter Greta Kaul writes because ” not much is known about the way COVID-19 and the flu interact. What does the start of flu season amid the COVID-19 pandemic mean for Minnesota?”

“Doctors and health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated against influenza in record numbers this fall to avoid a dreaded scenario: flu colliding with a raging coronavirus pandemic“, writes health reporter Lena H Sun in the Washington Post.

In a recent interview on the JAMA network, Dr Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said:

This fall and winter could be one of the most complicated public health times we have, with the two coming at the same time. On the other hand, I’m an optimist. If the American public heeds the advice that we said about face covering and the social distancing and the hand-washing and being smart about crowds, this could be one of the best flu seasons we have had. And particularly if they do one more thing, and that is to embrace the flu vaccine with confidence.

Dr Robert Redfield, CDC Director (source: Washington Post)

Getting vaccinated against seasonal flu would both protect people against a double whammy from the flu and COVID-19 and reduce the total number of flu cases. That would help a health care system that is struggling to cope with one serious respiratory illness already.

From The NPR

Flu and COVID-19 Co-infection

In the NPR, Nell Greenfieldboyce writes that ‘doctors around the world have seen some patients who tested positive for both influenza virus and the coronavirus that causes COVID-19’. According to the Michael Matthay, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco:

  • It is quite possible and likely that the two viruses could infect a patient at the same time or, for that matter, sequentially: one month, one virus, and the next month, the other virus.
  • Both viruses can cause dangerous inflammation in the lungs that can fill the airspaces with fluid, making it difficult to breathe.
  • It’s likely with both viruses at the same time, the severity of respiratory failure would be greater. Or, of course, having two illnesses in a row that affected the lungs would make the respiratory failure more severe.

Lena Sun writes in the Post: “The CDC advises that almost everyone 6 months or older get a flu vaccine annually. It is considered especially important for individuals at risk of severe illness: children younger than 2, adults older than 65, people with suppressed immune systems, pregnant women and anyone with chronic lung, heart, kidney or liver disease.”

Coronavirus Pandemic Watch

According to the MDH latest tally (as of Sept 6, 11 a.m.) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 80,587 (out of 1,594,639 tested) with 1,857 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins database (as of Sept 6, 2:28 p.m.) there are 6,268,757 confirmed covid19 infection with 188,791 deaths. Globally the covid19 virus has infected 26,961,795 with 880,955 deaths.