U of Missouri study finds high prevalence of COVID-19, flu coinfections

During the 2021-2022 influenza season, central Missouri saw a high prevalence of people coinfected with COVID-19 and the flu, according to a study involving 462 patients. 

The findings are based on 462 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 between Oct. 1, 2021, and Jan. 27, 2022, across University of Missouri Health Care settings. Researchers subsequently tested the COVID-19 patients for flu and 33 percent tested positive. 

"Co-infection in our samples peaked in October 2021 at 48 percent when the delta variant was dominant, and reached the lowest point at 7.1 percent in January 2022 when the omicron variant prevailed," said Henry Wan, PhD, senior study author and professor of molecular microbiology and immunobiology, veterinary pathobiology, electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Missouri in Columbia. 

Those who were infected with omicron were less likely to develop a coinfection or become hospitalized, compared to those who had a delta infection. People who received at least one flu vaccine during the 2020-2022 influenza seasons were also less likely to become coinfected, according to the findings published in the November issue of Virology

"Testing for both influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses in individuals experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness and vaccinations against influenza and SARS-CoV-2 for all eligible individuals should continue to be encouraged," researchers said. 


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