Professor Francisco Antunes warns that influenza virus strains are more violent this year

The warning was the subject of discussion in the webinar "Flu and COVID-19: The perfect storm?", recently organised by the Institute of Environmental Health of FMUL.

Specialist in infectious diseases, Professor Francisco Antunes argues that, this year, there may be a greater risk for the most vulnerable population, given that strains of the seasonal flu virus are more violent and vaccination rates are "inadequate".

“The most complex and worst, in terms of public health this year, is that seasonal flu has aspects of (greater) severity. This is because the strains are more violent, there are inadequate vaccination rates in the population, in groups at higher risk, such as children, the elderly and pregnant women, there is more danger of people becoming seriously ill and even dying”, said the Professor in an interview with Lusa.

Evidencing the fact that, at this time of the year “influenza viruses circulate and the pandemic is in an intense and widespread phase in the community”, the Professor commented on the incidence rate of flu syndrome, which points to a reduced value, but that “should be interpreted taking into account that the population under observation was smaller than that seen in the same period in previous years”, he stressed.

Francisco Antunes also considers that the “mitigation in relation to cases of seasonal flu at the beginning of last year (when the new coronavirus began circulating) was associated with “the mitigation measures that were adopted at the time for Covid-19”.

In the same interview, he also alluded to the "substantial reduction in tests (for Covid-19), which are fundamental to break the transmission chains", arguing that the effects of the vaccine against Covid-19 will only be felt next year.

The Professor regretted the current situation of uncontrolled pandemic in the country, admitting that the increase in mortality is "perfectly admissible", because "the National Health Service has broken down", denoting " inability" to respond to scheduled surgeries. The interview can be read in full HERE.