Higher vaccination rates for influenza could help us trace out and find out new viruses like the novel coronavirus. The virus responsible for COVID-19 could have been detected much early, before December 2019, as its circulation seems to have started way back. For instance, if those who were already vaccinated for flu got symptoms similar to flu, that would have raised alarm.

Jason Kindrachuk, assistant professor of epidemiology, University of Manitoba said that red flags would have been raised if there more people were vaccinated for flu so that there could have been a distinction, flu-like symptoms in flu vaccinated patients would have implied a unique infection, reported Guardian.

"Now I wonder how many things are written off as influenza where they may be new viruses which could impact world health," he added.

Flu shot recommended

SARS-CoV-2
Novel Coronavirus NIAID / Creative Commons

Flu season is approaching added to coronavirus. Hence, governments are recommending people to get vaccinated for influenza to reduce overburdening of the healthcare system. World Health Organization has also recommended yearly vaccination for high-risk groups that include the healthcare workers, elderly, pregnant women, children below five and those with underlying chronic conditions.

Flu shot rates had ever since been low, so officials should increase the rate, said Kindrachuk citing Canada's current rate to be 20 percent, while he said it should aim for 80 percent.

WHO also warned of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks such as measles as routine vaccination and immunization activities have been hit and also there is less demand for vaccinations owing to social distancing. The organization advised countries that such routine activities should be maintained under safe conditions.

Efforts

Influenza
A doctor hold a syringe as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Nice, France October 24, 2017. Reuters

Australia and New Zealand are in that direction, as early flu vaccinations were started. New Zealand health minister David Clark had said, even though flu shot doesn't help people getting COVID-19, but "it will help to 'flatten the curve' of demand on our hospitals this winter".

Another report said that South Africa has would give priority to healthcare workers for vaccinations as there were fewer workers. China Daily reported China also had stockpiled twice the amount of vaccinations than the previous year before coronavirus outbreak started.

Another study from 2017-18 said that those vaccinated with flu have high chances of getting contracted with the coronavirus. But WHO said that there was little or no evidence with regard to the connection between the present pandemic and influenza vaccinations.