3 November 2020

Mihai Netea and colleagues of the research theme Infectious diseases and global health have shown that a flu vaccination enhances the immune response against the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This may possibly lead to a better protection against a COVID-19 infection. They show that hospital staff who received a flu vaccine in the winter 2019-2020 were less likely to be infected with the coronavirus.

The study has been published on MedRxiv pending peer review.

Every year, the flu causes 290,000 to 650,000 deaths worldwide and a large group of people who are at increased risk of a flu infection are invited to get the flu vaccine. Healthcare personnel also receive an invitation for the influenza vaccine, which is important for both themselves and their patients.

Influenza vaccine ensures trained immune response

The study looked at two things. Firstly, a lab model showed that last winter's influenza vaccine leads to an improved immune response against the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in cells of healthy individuals: a so-called 'trained immune response'. Previous studies have shown that it can provide broad protection against infections.

Secondly, the number of COVID-19 infections among health care personnel was examined, distinguishing between groups that were vaccinated against influenza and those that were not vaccinated with the influenza vaccine in autumn 2019. The analysis showed that health care personnel who were vaccinated with the flu vaccine were less likely to have a COVID-19 infection: the number of COVID-19 infections was 39% lower in the vaccinated group.

Vaccinated staff less frequently infected with COVID-19

These data, like some recent other reports, argue for a possible beneficial effect of influenza vaccination against influenza and against COVID-19. This means that the flu vaccine could offer partial protection against both infections next winter.

Mihai Netea: "We thought it was important to publish these results now, because the flu vaccine will be made available to a large group of people in the coming period. In addition to protection against influenza, the vaccine could have beneficial effects against the new coronavirus".

Related news items

Rubicon grants awarded to three RIMLS researchers

19 April 2022

Three researchers have received Rubicon funding from NWO/ZonMw. This will enable Elke Muntjewerff, Laura de Vries and Laurens van de Wiel to do research at a foreign research institute for the next two years.

read more

Poster prize for Valerie Betting

12 April 2022

At the recent EMBO Workshop PIWI proteins and piRNAs, Valerie Betting, theme Infectious Diseases & Global Health, won a poster prize for her poster Elucidating the role of Yb in PIWI4/tapiR-mediated gene silencing.

read more

Neolithic made us taller and more intelligent, but more prone to heart disease How modern European populations have evolved over the past 50,000 years

6 April 2022

After the Neolithic, European populations showed an increase in height and intelligence, reduced skin pigmentation and increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to genetic changes that lowered concentrations of 'good' HDL cholesterol.

read more

Immunogenetic studies in diverse populations are essential Clear immunological differences between populations in Europe and Africa

15 February 2022

Genetic factors that partly determine host defenses sometimes differ significantly between people and populations. This is shown in a publication in the American Journal of Human Genetics by researchers from the Netherlands, Tanzania and India.

read more

What does the shingles vaccine teach us about other vaccines? Investigating the role of trained immunity

27 January 2022

The vaccine for shingles, a condition that causes itching, pain, and blisters, is 90% effective, even in elderly. This is remarkable, since most vaccines offer less protection in elderly. Radboudumc is investigating why this vaccine works so well and how it might help us to develop better vaccines.

read more