British virologist Chris Smith has warned that the flu could be more “worrying” than COVID-19 as experts alert of low immunity because of the pandemic.
This came after the Scottish Government announced free flu vaccines will be offered to Scottish people. Speaking to the BBC, Chris Smith said: “We know that in the autumn all the usual seasonal suspects will rear their ugly heads again with people going back to school, people going back to work, and the weather closing in.

“This facilitates outbreaks and spread of infectious diseases.

“And we see that every year, and we’re expecting this year to be no different.

“But of course, superimposed on that will be the risk of more Coronavirus cases, but also flu.

“And flu has gone very quiet because of the measures we’ve taken to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

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He went on: “We’ve seen very few cases of flu around the world. And this is doing two things. One, it means that because people are not catching it, they’re not topping up their natural immunity to flu.

“So there are more vulnerable people in the population.

“But two, we normally have a big network of 1000s of laboratories collecting samples of the flu all around the world all through the year, which are fed back through the World Health Organization to work out what do we do about the vaccine.

“Now, because flu’s vanished off our radar screen, we are much more resorting to guesswork in terms of what the vaccines are going to have to do this year for flu than we would normally do.”

The virologist continued: “So we think there’s every reason to be more worried about the flu in perhaps this year or into next year.

“And it’s for that reason, because there is a bigger risk of the flu, that they’re urging everybody to get vaccinated because the vaccine does nevertheless confer some protection even if it’s not a perfect match with what turns out to be circulating.

“But because of the risk of a higher rate of circulation of the flu, getting a flu jab, as well as a Coronavirus booster job which the JCVI have suggested should apply to everyone over the age of 50 starting in the autumn and we gather that pharmacies and chemists will be able to deliver a sort of a double shot, one in each arm, a flu jab and a COVID booster.”

He added: “I think this will be very good practice going into the autumn because it will make sure everybody is as protected as they possibly can be. And that will help to safeguard against pressures on the health service.”

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The Scottish Government has announced that will be running its largest ever flu vaccination programme in light of the covid pandemic.

Around four million people in the country will be eligible to get a free vaccine from next month.

The flu vaccination programme will run alongside the Covid vaccination programme.

Medical experts have said that immunity levels to the flu may be even lower than usual this year due to the lower levels of the virus circulating last year due to lockdown.

Thousands of people are hospitalised with the virus every year.

From the week ending 28 May to the week ending 2 July 2021, there were 6,155 recorded deaths involving influenza and pneumonia

Post source Daily Express

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