Covid-19 and flu coinfection rising in India, WHO warns it may escalate in the winters

Covid-19 and flu coinfection rising in India, WHO warns it may escalate in the  winters
Representative imagePixabay
  • Coinfection cases of Covid-19 and flu are likely to see an upward trend in the upcoming winter, says Maria Van Kerkhove of WHO.
  • It has already risen by 20-30% in India in the last two months but doctors say that the cases reported are mild in nature.
  • People are reluctant to get themselves tested or vaccinated — major reasons behind the spurt.
Even as Covid-19 is ebbing with India reporting less than 3,000 new cases per day, there is a new threat emerging – that of Covid-19 and flu coinfection. And the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning against it.

A coinfection is when a person contracts more than one infection or virus at the same time.

As winter approaches, the chances of contracting Covid-19 and flu would rise globally, Maria Van Kerkhove, infectious disease epidemiologist at WHO, said last week.

“With the world opening up, public health measures relaxed and vaccination rates not as high as we need them, we will see co-circulation of viruses like influenza and SARS-CoV-2, increased cases and increased burden,” Kerkhove said in a tweet.

Coinfection cases rise by 20-30% in India

The coinfection of Covid-19 and flu has also been spreading in India as well. These cases have risen by 20-30% in India in the last two months, according to Dr Laxman Jessani, consultant, infectious disease, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.


These ailments share symptoms like sore throat, cough, cold, body pain, headache and fever and both are quite contagious.

“Symptoms of Covid and flu are similar, predominantly affecting the upper respiratory tract. In some cases pneumonia can occur, which can be severe as well,” Dr Jessani told Business Insider India.

However, doctors say that in most cases it’s still mild but can get severe, depending on the person.

Why are cases of coinfection rising?

Doctors and experts suggest that people are not getting their vaccinations and that’s one of the major reasons behind the spurt.

“Covid vaccine will provide protection against Covid and flu shots will provide protection against influenza. They do not have cross protection. Hence there is a need to take both vaccines,” Dr Jessani added.

People are also avoiding taking a Covid test when they detect symptoms and this can also be one of the reasons behind contracting multiple infections.

“It could mostly be because of people not getting themselves tested. They are either ignoring it as some virus or taking antibiotics for high fever with a cough and cold, which is not right,” Dr Shalini Joshi, senior consultant - internal medicine, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru, told Business Insider India.

The only way to cope with rising cases is to ramp up the testing surveillance, Kerkhove of WHO further said. “There are tools that exist to minimise the impact in terms of severe disease burden on health systems and economic impact, but they need to be used appropriately in all countries,” she added.

From managing Harvard’s Alpha Fund to starting a $1 billion hedge fund — The journey of Divya Nettimi
98% of companies responsible for 80% of corporate greenhouse emissions refuse to disclose their climate-change impacts: Study