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A new study published in the prestigious journal Vaccine, a peer-reviewed medical journal, published by Elsevier, titled Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference among Department of Defense personnel during the 2017-2018 influenza season, reveals that influenza vaccination may increase the risk of infection from other respiratory viruses -- a phenomenon known as virus interference.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate so-called “test negative study designs,” which are used to calculate influenza vaccine effectiveness without consideration for the effects the flu vaccine may have in changing the risk of infection for other viruses which can cause respiratory illness, which the authors point out may result in, “potentially biasing vaccine effectiveness results in the positive direction.” They elaborate further:
“The virus interference phenomenon goes against the basic assumption of the test-negative vaccine effectiveness study that vaccination does not change the risk of infection with other respiratory illness, thus potentially biasing vaccine effectiveness results in the positive direction. This study aimed to investigate virus interference by comparing respiratory virus status among Department of Defense personnel based on their influenza vaccination status. Furthermore, individual respiratory viruses and their association with influenza vaccination were examined.”
The study results fly directly in the face of recent health recommendations that one should get an influenza vaccine to protect against Coronavirus-19.
According to the study, “vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus.” More specifically,
“Examining non-influenza viruses specifically, the odds of both coronavirus and human metapneumovirus in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher when compared to unvaccinated individuals (OR = 1.36 and 1.51, respectively) (Table 5).”
That represents a 36% and 51% increased risk of coronavirus and human metapneumovirus in influenza vaccinated individuals, respectively.
While the study did find there was significant protection with flu vaccination against most influenza viruses, including also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections, previous research raises red flags. A 2018 study published in PNAS found that receiving a flu vaccination in the current and previous season may increase aerosol shedding of flu particles 6.3 times more as compared with having no vaccination in those two seasons.