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Global Times

China's CDC warns of dual risks of influenza and novel coronavirus in autumn and winter

Global Times

By Liu Caiyu in Beijing and Chen Shasha in Shenzhen Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/12 17:00:45

As concerns linger that humans may face dual risks of influenza and novel coronavirus in autumn and winter, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called for wider populations at risk of having respiratory diseases to have influenza vaccinations in a new-issued guideline.

Autumn and winter are the seasons that see high incidences of respiratory diseases. Lower temperatures are conducive to the survival and spread of viruses such as the novel coronavirus and influenza, thus there is a risk of overlapping epidemics of both infections, the CDC warned in the new guidelines of flu vaccinations released on Friday.

The CDC recommended key populations such as medical staff, teachers and students, from nursing homes, primary and secondary schools, as well as detainees and staff in prison institutions to receive influenza vaccines.

People at high risk of influenza, including elderly people aged 60 and above, children aged 0-5 years and pregnant women should also receive the influenza vaccine, the center said.

The domestic influenza vaccination rate was only around 2 percent per year, which is far lower than that in some Western countries but Chinese people's willingness to vaccinate this year has increased significantly, industry observers said.

Feng Luzhao, an expert on public health and vaccination from Peking Union Medical College told the Global Times on Saturday at the First Greater Bay Area Vaccine Summit held in Shenzhen that flu vaccinations will lower the dual infection risks of getting the flu and the novel coronavirus, and reduce the rate of misdiagnoses as the two respiratory diseases share certain similarities in terms of symptoms.

As of September 8, the total number of influenza vaccines issued in China has exceeded 15.87 million doses. Some experts estimated that the number of influenza vaccines issued in 2020 is expected to reach 50 million doses.

Feng said he expects this year's vaccination rate could reach around 4 percent. To address a future pandemic, Feng called for the Chinese public to maintain a high sense of willingness to receive flu vaccines in the long term, at the same time, Chinese vaccine producers should remain at a high production capacity.

The seasonal influenza epidemic can cause 3 to 5 million severe cases every year and 290,000 to 650,000 respiratory disease-related deaths around the globe.

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