Individuals who catch flu and Covid on the identical time this winter are twice as prone to die than those that solely have coronavirus, in response to the UK Health Safety Company chief government, Dr Jenny Harries.
The previous deputy chief medical officer for England warned that the UK faces an “unsure” winter – with each flu and Covid-19 circulating for the primary time – and urged folks to take up each the coronavirus and flu jabs if eligible.
Requested how frightened the general public needs to be about flu this winter, she instructed Sky’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “We needs to be frightened about flu every winter. I believe folks nonetheless don’t realise it may be a deadly illness.
“However I believe the vital factor about this winter is, we’re prone to see flu, for the primary time in any actual numbers, co-circulating with Covid. So the dangers of catching each collectively nonetheless stay. And should you do this, then early proof suggests that you’re twice as prone to die from having two collectively than simply having Covid alone.
“So I believe it’s an unsure winter forward – that’s not a prediction, it’s an unsure characteristic – however we do know that flu instances have been decrease within the earlier yr so immunity and the pressure sorts are slightly extra unsure,” she stated.
Harries additionally warned that the UK may have a multi-strain flu this yr, with lowered immunity, as final yr’s Covid restrictions meant that ranges of the virus have been extraordinarily low.
She stated that on common, about 11,000 folks will die from flu annually. “The distinction right here is as a result of we now have, should you like, skipped a yr nearly with flu, it’s attainable we would see multi-strain flu – we normally get one pressure predominating,” she added.
Harries stated there are 4 strains of virus on this yr’s flu vaccine, after taking recommendation from the World Well being Group (WHO), the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and trying to nations within the southern hemisphere, the place winter and subsequently flu season arrives earlier.
“So we’ve obtained a fairly good array in our toolbox to attempt to hit whichever one turns into dominant however it might be a couple of this yr, and other people’s immunity shall be decrease. So I believe the true trick right here is to get vaccinated in each Covid and flu, however clearly to proceed to do these good hygiene behaviours that we’ve been practising all by means of Covid”, Harries added.
Harries additionally stated that making youngsters put on masks in class wouldn’t be on the high of her record of Covid-safe measures.
“I believe the vital factor is we should always make certain youngsters aren’t in class if they’re really infectious. We’ve obtained an excellent testing programme and we all know that at the beginning of the time period we anticipated to see a surge in instances”, she instructed the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Present.
Harries additionally stated the dominance of the Delta variant globally has brought on different coronavirus variants to “change into extinct”, however warned we nonetheless must “keep alert”.
The NHS goals to immunise a report 35 million folks this winter, the most ambitious programme of flu jabs in its historical past. Free flu shots can be found for about 30 million frontline well being and social care employees, folks aged 50 and over, youngsters as much as college yr 11, those that are pregnant and people at medical danger.