Covid-19 & Influenza Co-Infection

So in today’s Medium article I will be talking about SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) and Influenza co-infection, not FLURona as some people like to say, for those that doubt this happens, yes it does happen it’s well documented since 2020, the actual scientific word for this is comorbidity. First I’ll be giving a brief explanation of what comorbidity is and co-infection (for the laymen’s of course). So without further ado, let’s get into the article.

➡ Summary
So this article is being written mainly about co-infection of these two viruses but also because many members of the public and the media are treating this as some kind of new variant when this is far from the truth. There is no new variant that combines Flu and SARS-CoV-2 into one, however where everyone is misunderstanding the fact that two viruses can co-occur and co-exist at the same time in one patient. The report of co-infection fluttered around the media when a pregnant woman in Israel had both the Flu and Covid-19 at the same time (comorbidity/co-infection).

➡ Misunderstanding that started the term “FluRona”
As reported by WebMD Israel reported the first case of co-infection of Flu and Covid-19 on the 3rd Jan 2022, was found in an unvaccinated pregnant woman at Rabin Medical Center in Petach, Israel. However, the outcome of this was not great whatsoever as she was later put onto to ventilator to help her breathe (as she couldn’t) but later died. (Source: https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20220103/israel-first-case-patient-covid-and-flu)

I do have to address the fact that the first patients for Covid-19 and Flu co-infection happened in 2020, long before the case above in Israel, to address any scientific inconsistencies. As dated here from a Lancet study published on the 16th May 2020. (Source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31052-7/fulltext)

➡ Comorbidity Meaning
The simultaneous presence of two or more diseases, disorders, conditions, illnesses or health problems within a patient. (Source 1: Oxford Language) (Source 2: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2713155/)

Multimorbidity
The co-occurrence of multiple chronic or acute diseases and medical conditions within one person without any reference to an index condition. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2713155/)

To further explain what multimorbidity is the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence make a fantastic laymen’s explanation on this, here’s the quote: “Multimorbidity is the presence of two or more long-term health conditions, which can include: Defined physical or mental health conditions, such as diabetes or schizophrenia. Ongoing conditions, such as learning disability. Symptom complexes, such as frailty or chronic pain.” (Source: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/multimorbidity/)

➡ Meta-analysis of Covid-19 and Flu Co-infection
A study from the science journal Frontiersin looks into great detail about Covid-19 and influenza co-infection. The study managed to evaluate 79 patients for this co-infection out of 3,070 patients with Covid-19 from 11 prevalence studies which is a very good amount. Results from this study were: The frequency of influenza virus co-infection among patients with COVID-19 was 4.5% in Asia and 0.4% in America. Four prevalence studies reported the sex of patients, which were 30 men and 31 women. The prevalence of co-infection with influenza in men and women with COVID-19 was 5.3 and 9.1%, respectively. (Source: https://frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2021.681469/full)

Prevalence and outcomes of co-infection and superinfection with SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens: A systematic review and meta-analysis. (Source: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0251170)

Meta-analysis is the strongest form of scientific evidence for any subject within science, so this is why I started off with this.

➡ Other studies of Covid-19/Influenza Co-infection
One study from The Lancet stated that co-infection from both of these viruses is very feasible. (Source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31052-7/fulltext)

Co-infection of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus causes more severe and prolonged pneumonia in hamsters. (Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33475159/)

One case report study from the BMJ looked at co-infection with SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) and Influenza A co-infection. (Source: https://casereports.bmj.com/content/13/7/e236812)

Influenza co-infection associated with severity and mortality in COVID-19 patients. This study actually helps using this information to continuously screen for Influenza and Covid-19 co-infection. (Source: https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12985-021-01594-0)

Coinfection With SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza A(H1N1) in a Patient Seen at an Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Site in Egypt: Case Report (Source: https://publichealth.jmir.org/2021/4/e27433/)

A Case Series of SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza Co-infection. (Source: https://www.cureus.com/articles/66458-a-case-series-of-sars-cov-2-and-influenza-co-infection)

➡ Conclusion
As we can see from the above co-infection of both of these viruses have been occurring in patients for over a year and this is nothing new, it’s been made aware of due to the first case appearing in Israel which obviously make it newsworthy. Unfortunately now due to journalists misunderstanding what co-infections and comorbidities are it’s been sadly dubbed “FluRona” when there’s no such thing. Also, this article proves that comorbidities for two different virus family types can occur at the same time within a patient.

💥 Thanks for reading, Lawrence. Please consider a small contribution, in the form of a beer as all articles are created in my small amount of spare time: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/LawrenceRob

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Lawrence Robinson

Lawrence Robinson

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Passionate about evidence-based scientific information and tackling falsehoods that thrive on social media.