Coronavirus: scientists find collision of pandemic and flu doubles Covid-19 transmission

Coronavirus: scientists find collision of pandemic and flu doubles Covid-19 transmission

  • Decline of new cases after first wave was caused by lockdown and social distancing but also the end of flu season, find European researchers
  • Medical experts in both China and the US urge citizens to get flu vaccination before the northern winter hits

Influenza could more than double the transmission rate of the coronavirus, according to new European research.

A joint study by the Max Planck Institute in Germany and Pasteur Institute in France showed that on average, a patient infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus could pass Covid-19 to two other persons.

But if he or she also had the flu, it would help the coronavirus jump to four or five people, it said.

“The results were unequivocal,” said the researchers, led by German epidemiologist Dr Matthieu Domenech de Celles, in a non-peer-review paper posted on Medrxiv.org on Wednesday.

There is growing concern that a second wave of the pandemic may hit the northern hemisphere this autumn, possibly making the current coronavirus crisis even worse.

“I don’t know … nor can anyone know what the fall is going to bring,” said top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci in an interview with the American medical publication JAMA last month.

Domenech de Celles and colleagues developed a model that could simulate the co-circulation of seasonal flu and Covid-19. They analysed the Covid-19 data in European countries, including Belgium, Italy, Spain and Norway to decouple the impact of the two different infectious diseases.