The influenza vaccine is currently in production and will be available this fall as usual.
May 31, 2020
Updated June 1, 2020 at 4h19
The COVID-19 and influenza: less respiratory virus in order
In addition to a possible second wave of COVID-19, the fall will bring with him the grey weather, the rain, and also… the flu. Good news, the respiratory viruses may be present and the influenza vaccine will give support usual… as long as those who need to go looking for it.
For Gaston De Serres, medical epidemiologist at the Institut national de Santé publique du Québec (INSPQ), it is clear that people at risk of contracting flu and of developing complications should be vaccinated against influenza. “At this point, it is certain that if you have flu-like symptoms, that worry a little bit more since they are similar to the symptoms of the COVID-19. It will therefore be recommended for people at risk, such as the elderly, to get vaccinated,” explains the researcher in an interview a few days ago.
The vaccination campaign of next winter will not necessarily be more important than those of other years, according to Louis, a Flemish virologist and the senior researcher of the axis of infectious diseases and immunity research Centre of the CHU de Québec. Dr Flemish still think that the vaccination for people at risk of contracting influenza will be required. “What you don’t want to, it is that people who are susceptible to develop complications get influenza and the COVID-19 at the same time. Because right now, it might be dangerous,” he says.
Even if the majority of the laboratories focus on research on the coronavirus, M. Serres states that the influenza vaccine does not require additional research. The vaccine is currently in production and will be available this fall as usual. Among the most vulnerable are babies under six months of age, people with chronic diseases, pregnant women and the elderly.
“What you don’t want to, it is that people who are susceptible to develop complications get influenza and the COVID-19 at the same time. Because right now, it might be dangerous ”
Louis Flamand, virologist and researcher of infectious diseases and immunity research Centre of the CHU de Québec
In a survey conducted for the public health Agency of Canada on the vaccination campaign 2018-2019 against the seasonal flu, the main reason for non-vaccination of the participants was the perception that the vaccine is not necessary” in part because of its effectiveness. “Influenza, by the way, is not a virus, banal. Actually, sometimes the vaccine works and sometimes it does not work. The last campaign that I’ve seen, the efficiency was 0 %. But scientists need to produce according to predictions. With a vaccine against the COVID-19, we would not have this problem because, the virus, it does not mute no,” says the Flemish who believes that in case of doubt, it is better to get vaccinated. With the other respiratory viruses, influenza is, in general, a 5 to 10 % of the admissions total in the hospital.
Sanitary measures effective against other viruses?
Gaston De Serres says that there is a real possibility that the health measures put in place currently in the company to drop in influenza cases and respiratory infections, in addition to those related to the COVID-19. Indeed, the latest weekly report of the provincial program of surveillance of respiratory viruses, published on march 28 by the public health Laboratory of Quebec, indicated that “the index influenza activity was low, with a downward trend”.
For the doctor-epidemiologist, it is much too early to confirm or refute this trend, but he still is optimistic : “respiratory viruses are mostly transmitted as the COVID-19. Thus, there is a real possibility that the health measures are effective against the influenza also. We cannot currently attribute the decline in influenza activity in the containment measures. But the next winter, we will be able to better evaluate this phenomenon according to the measures that will be in place at that time”, says De Serres.
In addition to the sanitary measures which might be effective against influenza, M. De Serres adds that the research on the vaccine against the coronavirus could have a positive impact on the development of vaccines against influenza. “This is not what we do, but as the research on the vaccine against the COVID-19 use of new methods, new approaches, it could very well help us for the the influenza vaccine. We could maybe get better results or a better efficacy of the vaccine”, he suggests.