In a glimmer of hope in the fight against COVID-19, a study in the Netherlands has found that flu shots could help to drastically combat the virus.
The study revealed that employees with the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands who had been administered a flu shot during the 2019-20 season were found to be 39 percent less likely than their colleagues to test positive for the coronavirus as of June 1st, 2020. Those employees who had not been vaccinated contracted the virus at a 2.23 percent rate, compared to only 1.33 percent of those who were vaccinated. While not yet peer-reviewed, this latest finding seemingly confirms the belief that flu shots are a strong weapon against the virus.
While clinical trials to further investigate the effectiveness of the flu shot against COVID-19 would be considered unethical considering that it would require denying patients access to flu shots, the Radboud research team was able to conduct a lab experiment to further support their findings. In the experiment, they drew blood cells from healthy participants and purified them before exposing some of them to a flu vaccine. The cells were then allowed to grow for a few days and then exposed to the coronavirus. Through this process, the researchers discovered that the vaccinated cells produced more of several kinds of immune molecules that fight off pathogens than those that were initially left alone.
This new finding comes as we are entering flu season, which could likely be exacerbated with the pandemic still in full force.