Catching flu and Coronavirus could strike horror death spike among the patients.
For people of 65 and over, pregnant women, people with certain conditions such as kidney disease, asthma or heart disease and carers or those in care homes, both have deadly consequences.
Express reports that research proved fatal to 43 percent of patients, compared to 27 percent of those with just COVID-19. The findings caused alarm among health officials who launched the largest flu vaccination programme in UK history in response to the threat.
They hope to give jabs to at least 75 percent of those eligible in England – around 22 million people. The Public Health England study looked at records from more than 19,000 people tested for both influenza and COVID-19 in England between January and April. Most were hospital patients. Around 4,400 were positive for coronavirus alone, 992 for flu alone, and 58 people had both.
Researchers calculated that for patients with both viruses, their odds of dying were almost six times higher than people who tested negative for both.
Patients with only COVID were 2.6 times more likely to die compared to those without either virus, meaning co-infection with flu increased the risk of death by 2.3 times.
Most cases of co-infection were in older people and more than half of those aged over 60 died.
PHE’s medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “If you have both flu and Covid-19, you certainly have a higher risk of death but also of severe illness and that includes hospitalisation, ventilation and longer effects from having the two.
“This reinforces the importance of getting a flu vaccination.”
The study also found people who tested positive for flu were almost 70 percent less likely to test positive for COVID-19, possibly due to a short window of heightened immunity.
But Dr Doyle said this was not a reason to avoid getting the jab as people who do catch both viruses will be “in serious trouble”.
Studies in mice have also shown that those infected with both flu and COVID-19 suffered worse outcomes.
Dr Doyle also said anyone who thinks they have coronavirus or flu should stay at home and self-isolate, but they should only seek a test if they have symptoms of COVID-19: a fever, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
This year’s flu vaccine programme will be the biggest in UK history, with eligibility extended to new groups such as the household contacts of people advised to shield during lockdown and schoolchildren up to Year 7.
Healthy people aged 50-64 will also be offered the vaccine once most of those at higher risk, including over 65s, have had their jabs.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, below, said: “This year more than ever, it’s vital that those eligible for the flu jab get it this winter so you can protect yourself, your family and the NHS. We’re pulling out all the stops to prepare for this uniquely challenging winter and we have enough vaccines for 30 million people this year, more than we’ve ever done before.
“With the simultaneous risk of flu and COVID-19, make sure you get your flu jab if you’re eligible, don’t gather in groups larger than six and remember ‘Hands, Face, Space’ so we can look after each other.”
Flu kills around 11,000 people in a typical year and more than 20,000 in a “bad” season.
Last year was a “medium” season, officials said, with around 8,000 flu-related deaths.
The UK has relatively high flu vaccine uptake compared with other European countries – last year around 15 million of the 25 million people who were eligible got the jab.
But officials want to improve the figures, particularly among those with health conditions that put them at risk.
They include young children aged two to three and pregnant women.