Flu vaccine crucial to prevent 'twindemic' of flu and COVID-19, say Belgian virologists

To prevent the flu and COVID-19 viruses from circulating together in a so-called 'twindemic' this winter, it is important to put a strong emphasis on the flu campaign. This was said on Tuesday at a press conference of the Belgian GP association Société Scientifique de Médecine Générale (SSMG).

"Flu causes more damage than people think," warns Aurore Girard, vice-president of the SSMG. "For example, it can lead to serious complications, increasing the risk of heart attack or pneumonia." According to Girard, it is therefore important to bet on a strong prevention policy, to ensure that people aged 65 and over are well protected this winter too.

For this age group, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recommends a vaccination rate of 75 percent. But Belgium's figures have only reached around 60 percent in recent years. "So we still have a long way to go to reach an optimal coverage rate."

But the flu vaccine is also extra important this year as Belgium is still struggling with the pandemic. Experts warn of a dangerous and double viral shock. Trends from abroad raise fears that Belgium may also face this double epidemic or 'twindemic', where a new wave of COVID-19 coincides with the flu season.

Yet there are still a lot of uncertainties about this. "It is impossible to predict exactly when the next flu season will start, which virus strain will dominate and how severe the epidemic will be," said Marc Van Ranst, professor of virology and epidemiology. Much will also depend on the measures taken (in the context of COVID-19).

In Belgium, an average of 500,000 people are estimated to be affected by the flu virus every year, 1 in 1,000 infections requiring hospitalisation. Traditionally, the flu season runs from November to March. "With the vaccination campaign in October and November, we want to anticipate this," Girard said.



Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

About belganewsagency.eu

Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels