By Arianne Mantel in NETHERLANDS

Amsterdam – A double infection of a coronavirus with the flu virus makes hospitalized patients significantly worse off. They require earlier ventilation in the ICU and are more likely to die, especially those with underlying suffering.

This is evident from a new study by researchers at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and the University of Edinburgh. The researchers state that although a double infection occurs less often, they also expect that in the future a double infection will occur more often. Therefore, the researchers from the LUMC recommend to always test for both viruses when hospitalized and to adjust the national vaccination campaign for the vulnerable groups accordingly in the future.

The study based on 300,000 patients appeared in The Lancet. “In the past two years, we regularly saw patients with COVID-19 become seriously ill, sometimes resulting in an ic admission and ventilation,” says Maaike Swets, PhD candidate in the Department of Infectious Diseases at LUMC and the University of Edinburgh. An infection with influenza (flu) can lead to a similar situation. “But less was known about the consequences of a double infection with sars-cov-2 and influenza -or other respiratory viruses.”

Worrying outcome

The results of a double infection therefore show worrying outcomes: “People who have influenza and sars-cov-2 are more than four times as likely to be ventilated. They die 2.4 times more often than people who have only corona.”

Big implications for the patient, but potentially for hospitals and ICU capacity during seasons when sars-cov-2 and influenza circulate together, the researchers argue.

Thus, the number of people with more than one infection is expected to increase. Especially during periods when several viruses are in circulation. Swets explains that this may have been less during the coronapandemic due to the one-half meter policy, self-isolation and mouth masks. Now that there are no more corona measures and there is a flu epidemic, this could lead to an increase in double infections.

Lead researcher of the LUMC, Geert Groeneveld, mentions the importance of prevention. Not only social hygiene, but also vaccinations can prevent worse. “Especially for vulnerable people, protection against the coronavirus and the flu virus is important.”