Flu and measles vaccines could help flatten the COVID-19 curve, study finds

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine (United States) and the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) have shown that even vaccines against influenza and measles could help reduce the burden of the pandemic of COVID-19.

The study, published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, crystallizes decades of scientific evidence suggesting that the generalized immune-boosting properties of many vaccines may cross-protect patients against multiple pathogens.

Before specific vaccines were available against the COVID-19, many public health experts and immunologists suggested immunizing vulnerable populations with other vaccines to provide some degree of protection.

“We know that unrelated vaccines have these heterologous effects, and a reasonable person could say that if you use them during a pandemic, it would be beneficial. However, it was not clear how much such an intervention would help, which populations would be better to target, or which part of the population would have to receive the unrelated vaccines to have a significant effect ”, explains Nathaniel Hupert, one of the leaders of the investigation.

Using the wave of COVID-19 of the 2020-21 winter that hit the United States after the reopening, the researchers modeled the likely effects of a non-vaccine intervention COVID-19 at different times and directed at different populations.

Although they did not specify specific vaccines, the researchers chose cross-protection values ​​consistent with data from previous studies on measles, influenza, tuberculosis, and other immunizations.

They found that an unrelated vaccine that provided only 5 percent protection against severe COVID-19, and administered to only a small portion of the population, would have resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of cases and hospital use. .

“Surprisingly, we found a couple of really interesting results from what we put into the mix. While the severity of COVID-19 is closely correlated with age, an experimental setting that modeled the vaccination of all those over the age of 20 was more effective than strategies targeting only the elderly ”, Hupert argues.

And ends: “This could be because young people tend to have more social contacts between age groups, making them more likely to spread the virus to more vulnerable populations. The timing of vaccination was also important, as administration during the rising phase of the wave of infections had the greatest impact. “

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