Health experts have warned that people can get both flu and Covid-19 at the same time, and the consequences can be deadly.
Speaking at a media briefing on this year’s flu vaccine, Public Health England’s medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle warned that those at high risk of flu are most at risk of Covid-19, too.
A new study funded by PHE found people infected with flu and Covid-19 at the same time are almost twice as likely to die as those with Covid-19 alone.
With flu and Covid-19 likely to circulate at the same time this winter, experts worry the viruses could have a significant impact on health service demand, as well as rates of illness and death.
They are urging people eligible for a free flu vaccine to get one.
The research, looking at cases between January and April this year, also found those with co-infection of the two viruses were more at risk of severe illness. Most cases of co-infection were in older people and just under half of them died.
That said, the likelihood of a person getting both flu and Covid-19 seems low. Of 19,256 individuals tested for both influenza and coronavirus, 58 people were found to have co-infection.
Overall, 43% of cases with both Covid-19 and flu died, compared to 27% of those who tested positive for coronavirus alone.
One caveat of the study is that it used data from people who tested positive for flu and Covid-19 from January to April this year. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for the Department of Health and Social Care, said at that point, the vast majority of Covid-19 tests were not being done in the community, only in hospitalised patients.
“There are multiple, plausible reasons why it’s a bad idea to have Covid-19 and flu at the same time,” he said. People who have both need to stay in hospital for longer, have a greater...