Covid could combine with influenza this winter to cause a super-infection doubling the length of hospital stays compared with coronavirus alone, scientists have warned.
A report from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said people who had contracted both viruses in UK hospitals needed an average of 16 days of treatment compared with seven for those just with Covid.
The report warned that social distancing had reduced the circulation of all respiratory viruses and, because of waning population immunity, the next flu season would be worse than usual. A dual infection may also increase the chance of transmitting Covid, scientists fear.
“Co-infections with Sars-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses are expected to occur this winter, with the potential to place pressures on the NHS and care services,” it said.
“Based on animal and clinical data, there is a realistic possibility that co-infection with Sars-CoV-2 and influenza may cause increased disease severity than would be expected if influenza and Sars-CoV-2 acted independently.
“We recommend that individuals with symptomatic respiratory infections self-isolate even if they receive a negative test result for Sars-CoV-2, as this will reduce respiratory virus transmission and potentially societal burden.”