April 18, 2020 | By Arjun Walia | Source
“On March 12th, 2020, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta held a global town hall on “Corona Facts and Fears.” During the discussion, Anderson encouraged the audience to get a flu shot, suggesting that it may help with the coronavirus. Is this true?
Greg. G Wolff, an Epidemiologist with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch recently published a study in the Journal Vaccine titled, Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference among Department of Defense personnel during the 2017–2018 influenza season. The study examined virus interference in a Department of Defense population, this refers to the increased risk of other respiratory viruses as a result of, in this case, the influenza vaccine. The study found that virus interference varied among vaccinated individuals for individual respiratory viruses, and found that for coronavirus in particular, in this study, those who had been vaccinated with the flu vaccine had a 36 percent higher risk of contracting it.
The study compared the vaccination status of more than two thousand people with non-influenza respiratory viruses to more than three thousand people with pan-negative results. The vaccination status of more than three thousand cases of influenza were compared to three different control groups, and appropriate adjustments were made.
The study points out that recently published studies have “described the phenomenon of vaccine-associated virus interference; that is, vaccinated individuals may be at increased risk for other respiratory viruses because they do not receive the non-specific immunity associated with natural infection.” It goes on to emphasize that “There has been limited evidence that the influenza vaccine may actually be associated with the virus interference process. Other studies have found no association between influenza vaccination and increased respiratory virus risk.”
So, it’s important to mention that other studies have found no association between the flu vaccine and an increased risk for other respiratory viruses, but when looking specifically at coronavirus, Wolff’s study found that “Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus; however, significant protection with vaccination was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections.”
Metapneumovirus causes both upper and lower respiratory disease in all ages.
It’s also important to mention that out of the 6120 people in the study with respiratory viruses other than influenza, those who received an influenza vaccine actually had a decreased risk of having other respiratory pathogens compared to the unvaccinated group. Again, it’s important to be specific with what respiratory pathogens one may have an increased risk of contracting as a result of being vaccinated against influenza. This is why for some pathogens, no increased risk was observed, and in some cases a decreased risk was observed. But again, specifically for coronavirus, a significant increased risk was observed.
When it comes to coronavirus and human metapneumovirus, the data in this study showed an increased risk of contraction within vaccinated individuals to be 36 percent greater.”