People who have had the flu jab could be partly protected against the severe effects of Covid-19 and less likely to need critical hospital care, a major study has suggested.
Almost 75,000 Covid patients took part in the research that found dramatic drop-offs in strokes, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and sepsis.
Fewer admissions to intensive care were found when people had the influenza jab.
Professor Devinder Singh of the University of Miami, who authored the study, said: “We detected an association that appears to show flu vaccination offers some protection against severe Covid-19 disease.
“It’s very important to emphasise that we absolutely recommend the Covid-19 vaccine, and in no way suggest the flu vaccine is a substitute to the proper Covid-19 vaccine.”
Researchers analysed how often the patients suffered from conditions ranging from blood clots and heart attacks to kidney and respiratory failure in the four months following their Covid diagnosis.
Covid patients who were not vaccinated against the flu were 45 per cent to 58 per cent more likely to have a stroke, about 40 per cent more likely to develop DVT, and 36 per cent to 45 per cent more likely to have sepsis - according to the study.
It comes after Sajid Javid warned this winter’s flu season could be more challenging than previous years.
The Health Secretary said the potential problems from flu underlined the need to lift the remaining coronavirus restrictions in England this summer rather than risk a wave of Covid-19 cases coinciding with the annual NHS winter pressures.
The Government has targeted July 19 to lift the major remaining restrictions and Mr Javid said that while he understood concerns about the approach, it was a matter of getting it done before the winter.
He warned that experts had concerns about the impact of flu this winter because of the lack of natural immunity because of low prevalence during the lockdown last winter and “less confidence” in this year’s vaccine due to a lack of data from southern hemisphere cases.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC recently that a bad flu season could see 20,000 people dying.