SARS or flu: who is stronger?

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Last reviewed: 26.02.2021

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23 February 2021, 09:00

Rhinovirus infection is considered one of the most common causative agents of acute respiratory infections. It is noteworthy that the rhinovirus activates the antiviral defense in the body, thereby preventing the development of seasonal flu in humans. This information was announced by the staff of Yale University.

The massive spread of COVID-19 has attracted most scientists to a thorough study of all sides of the possible spread of respiratory viral diseases. Research also touched upon viral interference - a specific phenomenon of a cell's immunity to double infection if it is already infected with another virus. The heterologous type of interference assumes that infection with one virus makes it completely impossible for the second virus to replicate (whether related or not).

About ten years ago, during the period of mass activity of the H1N1 swine flu in Mexico and the United States, a pronounced wave in European countries did not occur. Scientists assume that a pandemic did not happen in Europe, since in the same period there was a surge in the incidence of rhinovirus.

Scientists from Yale University, led by Dr. Foxman, have studied the medical histories of more than 13,000 patients who were treated for respiratory infections at New Haven Hospital for three years. It was found that during the entire epidemiological season of the circulation of several types of viruses, patients diagnosed with rhinovirus practically did not contract the flu.

To test the interaction of rhinovirus and influenza infections, specialists laboratory grown from stem cells epithelial tissue lining the human respiratory system. By the way, it is a person who becomes the main target of a respiratory viral infection. In the resulting cell culture, scientists introduced rhinovirus, and three days later - influenza virus . The first introduced infection on the third day of infection provoked the development of an interferon reaction in cell cultures, which caused an approximately 50 thousand-fold decrease in the viral H1N1 RNA on the fifth day after the rhinovirus injury. Thus, antivirus protection was activated even before the introduction of the influenza virus, so there was no chance for it.

Therefore, experts were able to obtain evidence that one respiratory viral infection is capable of blocking infection with other pathogens, since it stimulates antiviral protection on the mucous tissue of the respiratory system. The results obtained indicate that the features of viral interference can have a significant impact on the epidemic situation. And this fact must be taken into account when thinking over the scale of measures regarding the seasonal spread of influenza simultaneously with the ongoing pandemic situation around COVID-19.

Information provided on the page of the medical journal The Lancet

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