The Organization fears that serious cases of flu will add to the demand for hospitalizations due to Covid, which is advancing especially in the northern hemisphere.
Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended this Wednesday to get vaccinated against the flu before the imminent arrival of the high season of this disease in the northern hemisphere, in order to improve the preparation and the fight against the coronavirus in the second wave of this pandemic.
Some serious cases of flu could require hospital care, which would add a second front in health networks that would already be treating numerous cases of Covid-19, and sometimes the symptoms of both diseases could be confused and cause alarm, for example in the schools, the experts explained.
“We especially encourage people who already have underlying medical conditions to get vaccinated against the flu,” said WHO Director of Health Emergencies Mike Ryan in a question and answer session with the public issued by the agency throught social media.
The organization’s technical director for Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, added that they are being observed “worrying trends” in the evolution of the pandemic in countries of the Northern Hemisphere, due to the increase in cases of coronavirus even before that flu season begins.
Although many of these increases are due to the fact that many countries are improving their diagnostic capacity, and not only are the most serious cases detected as in the first wave, “there is also a worrying rise in hospitalizations and occupancy in intensive care units “said the American expert.
Van Kerkhove mentioned that this trend is being observed in places such as Spain, France, eastern Europe or some states of the United States, for which he asked to increase the alert, although he insisted that the world “is better prepared and not in the same situation than at the beginning of the pandemic. “
Ryan added that the main concern now is that “the increase in cases of Covid-19 and flu occurs at the same time and this makes it extremely difficult for doctors and nurses to treat the most serious cases.”
However, there is still no evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the cause of Covid-19, increases with greater virulence with the drop in temperatures, as it does with the flu, the WHO expert recalled.
The Irish specialist, who affirmed that cases of infection of the same person with influenza and Covid-19 have been detected, assured that the objective now must be “to maximize survival rates and minimize hospitalization time” and for this we must start lowering the total number of infections.
Van Kerkhove stressed that the fatality rate of the virus, or the number of deceased patients from the total confirmed infections, has dropped to 0.6 percent, “a percentage that might sound low, but that increases dramatically at older ages.”
Ryan complemented this statement by explaining that “if the vaccine is not found and the disease hypothetically spread to 60 or 70 percent of the world’s population, this would mean a possibility of dying of between 1 and 2 percent, much higher than to win the lottery. “
The emergency director acknowledged that many countries “have found a way to live in a way with the coronavirus in a way that has a minimal impact on society”, but that in any case the pandemic “continues to be exhausting for everyone, affecting our plans. , vacations or studies “.
On a possible return of the massive confinements, Van Kerkhove expressed his hope that with the greater knowledge of the current coronavirus, more localized measures can be applied.
“National plans are needed, but implementations of these that are as local as possible, in areas as small as possible,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of reinfection of Covid-19, which has been detected in very small cases so far, the experts stressed that for now it is not a great concern but did not rule out, for example, that if a vaccine is found, it has to get inoculated every year, as with the flu.