Covid-flu co-infection increases risk of death by 600%, study finds

Experts urge Brits to get influenza jab to avoid ‘serious outcomes’

(Image credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

People infected with both flu and coronavirus have a sixfold increased risk of death compared with the general population, new research has found.

And patients battling both viruses at the same time are twice as likely to die as those with Covid-19 alone, according to the Public Health England (PHE) study.

The researchers analysed data on almost 20,000 people who were tested for both Covid and influenza between 20 January and 25 April. A total of 58 of those tested were positive for both viruses.

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Overall, 43% of people with co-infection died, compared with 27% of those who only had the coronavirus. “Most cases of co-infection were in older people and more than half of them,” the study says.

The findings have prompted experts to warn Britons of all ages to “not be complacent” about influenza, reports ITV News.

“Flu usually kills about 11,000 people a year in England and many more are hospitalised,” adds Sky News. “Officials have warned that both influenza and Covid-19 could be circulating at the same time, and are urging people who are eligible to get a flu vaccine.”

England’s influenza vaccine programme has been expanded to cover up to 30 million people, including primary school children, anyone aged 65 or over, people with long-term health conditions, and pregnant women.

Calling on these groups to get the jab, “particularly with the winter we’re going to face”, PHE medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle said: “People still think that the flu is just like a cold. It’s not. The flu is an extremely unpleasant condition.”

People who get both flu and Covid “are in serious trouble”, she added. “The people who are most likely to get both of these infections may be the very people who can least afford to in terms of their own immune system or their risk for serious outcomes.”

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Joe Evans is the world news editor at He joined the team in 2019 and held roles including deputy news editor and acting news editor before moving into his current position in early 2021. He is a regular panellist on The Week Unwrapped podcast, discussing politics and foreign affairs. 

Before joining The Week, he worked as a freelance journalist covering the UK and Ireland for German newspapers and magazines. A series of features on Brexit and the Irish border got him nominated for the Hostwriter Prize in 2019. Prior to settling down in London, he lived and worked in Cambodia, where he ran communications for a non-governmental organisation and worked as a journalist covering Southeast Asia. He has a master’s degree in journalism from City, University of London, and before that studied English Literature at the University of Manchester.