CAPE TOWN – Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize squashed the idea of whether the flu vaccine could help in the fight against the coronavirus, and admits that with winter coming, the country will be under pressure due to flu infections.
“We’ve got many different viruses from different families and the Covid-19 is a coronavirus which is different to the virus which causes the flu,” said Mkhize.
“Normally the flu vaccine is a combination of the strings of influenza, so it does not have a direct impact on the immunity against the Covid-19.
“But what it does is, it reduces the chances of people getting flu infections and it will reduce the heavy burden if a person would have the flu as well as Covid-19, that is the benefit out of the flu vaccine,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that influenza results in over 290 000 deaths each year and Mkhize recommends South Africans get the flu vaccine to lower the impact of being infected by both viruses.
“The flu vaccine will reduce the amount of people who will get the flu, remembering that the flu virus tends to have a large number of people infected and a high mortality rate,” said Mkhize.
“We don’t think of the flu as a major killer, but at the moment the number of people who are killed by the flu virus is much larger so this does become a pressure point if you put the two together to one individual.
“That’s why we are concerned as we go into winter because we’ll have two of these burdens which come at the same time,” he added.
For LIVE updates on the Coronavirus pandemic, follow us on Twitter : @sacoronamonitor