Experts have been suggesting to get flu shots this season as early as possible due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak can become worse during the fall due to the increase in flu patients in hospitals. Therefore, it is better to get a vaccine as soon as possible. Meanwhile, flu shots can also help keep the coronavirus at bay in the cold weather.
Robert Gallo is a virologist at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland. He is also the chairperson of the Global Virus Network. Robert said that the flu vaccine can also help prevent coronavirus infection in the coming season. However, it can only happen if you get the appropriate flu shots.
The influenza vaccine containing live flu viruses can have a potential protective effect against the novel coronavirus. Such vaccines have an attenuated or weakened virus that is still alive. However, it can not cause flu since it is too weak to cause disease but strong enough to induce immunity in the individual.
Most of the effective and safe vaccines consist of live viruses and it is not as scary as it seems. The most common vaccines containing a live attenuated viral particle include the polio vaccine and the measles vaccine.
Scientists develop vaccines against certain infections using various techniques. There are three basic methods to produce an effective vaccine which includes using a bacterial appendage or component to induce immunity in the individual.
Another method is to use a dead virus that can act as a foreign agent and trigger an immune response. The last and most effective method includes a live virus or pathogen passed through some treatments that weaken the pathogen.
An important finding of the vaccines containing live viral particles is that these shots help prevent other respiratory infections as well. Hence, these protect against the targeted disease and other infectious diseases.
Gallo said that there is enough evidence available regarding this phenomenon. The only drawback is that scientists are not aware of how long-lasting that immunity is due to the live virus. It can protect for a long time or even months but scientists are not sure about it.
The mechanism of vaccines works based on triggering the immune response. These vaccines induce antibody production in the body which is specific to every disease. Hence, they mostly only target on type of infectious particle. In other words, there is one type of antibody for one type of infection.
Vaccines containing live viruses also trigger antibody production in the body but also perform other functions. These vaccines help clear out infection before it spreads beyond control. These trigger myeloid cells that can act on a different type of pathogens, unlike antibodies!
Researchers all over the world are conducting trials using live vaccines to test their efficacy against the novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, Gallo suggests testing the flu shots as well as the nasal spray consists of the attenuated flu virus. The hypothesis is that the people who get flu shots might get protection against Covid-19. However, there are no trials for this vaccine going on against coronavirus.