In early 2020, cases of a similar type of infection were recorded in Wuhan, China, America, and some European countries. The patients had severe symptoms.
"Putting the coronavirus on the flu can cause a very serious illness," Eeva Ruotsalainen, assistant chief physician of the Helsinki Hospital District, told Ilta-Sanomat a year ago.
Judging by the patient's medical history, in this case, the risk of a severe course of the disease was several times greater than with infection with only coronavirus or only influenza.
"It is difficult to say what role viruses play individually, but international reports suggest that there is a risk of severe disease," said Hanna Nohynek, chief physician at the THL Institute for Welfare and Health.
Since the beginning of spring 2020, there have been practically no such cases. During this period, the flu did not spread much anywhere: the society remained in quarantine, social contacts were reduced to a minimum.
Various sanitary and environmental measures (wearing masks, distance, washing hands) were also actively followed.
"A more aggressive mutation of the coronavirus (Delta variant) is spreading, so the symptoms may be even worse," says infectious disease doctor Asko Järvinen.
Järvinen says the problem is not just a simultaneous infection. If you get infected with two infections in succession, the course of the disease will also be severe.
“When the mucous membrane is damaged after the first infection, it paves the way for the next virus and makes the body susceptible to new infections,” says Järvinen.
In 2020, the flu wave has not swept the world as it once did. What awaits us this year? Will the flu be harder for us due to the fact that immunity has decreased over the year?
“We cannot say which variant of the virus will now spread and when this period will come. The coronavirus does not disappear anywhere, and now, when society begins to open up, the flu will begin to spread with renewed vigor. This scenario will definitely be realized in Finland as well - it can be avoided it would only be completely isolated in Australia or New Zealand,” says Järvinen.
Asko Järvinen reports that most of the current coronavirus patients are unvaccinated people over 40 years old or patients with weak immune systems.
“These same groups are likely to be the most affected by the flu,” he says.
Nohinek recalls that cases of infection with two infections were recorded at a time when there was no vaccine against coronavirus yet.
"Now there are high-quality vaccines for both coronavirus and influenza. It is worth protecting yourself," says Hanna Nohinek.
According to Nohinek, about two million doses of influenza vaccine have been delivered to Finland.
THL recommends getting the flu shot for people at risk - that is, people over 65, pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses, and children under seven. Vaccination is also advised for people living with those who are at risk, as well as those who are in regular contact with them.
Järvinen stresses that coronavirus vaccination does not protect against influenza.
"However, this vaccine protects very well against coronavirus infection."
While vaccines do not completely avoid catching an infection, they can certainly relieve symptoms.
There have been cases in the world when the flu and the coronavirus "did not like" to be together.
For example, in Finland, the flu season ended abruptly in the spring of 2020 when the coronavirus began to spread. In South America, there was also no strong wave of influenza, as in the previous year. As if the flu had faded away or had been supplanted by the coronavirus.
Perhaps the first viral infection that enters the body triggers the production of antibodies, which to some extent helps to overcome other viruses and prevent infection.
However, there are many cases where patients were simultaneously found to have two viruses that cause respiratory tract infections - for example, influenza A virus and adenovirus.
That is, the possibility of contracting flu and coronavirus infection at the same time cannot be completely ruled out.
Read the original text at Ilta-Sanomat