Coronavirus has been unleashing one horror after another for the past two years. The latest on the list is Florona — a combination of Covid-19 and influenza. The first case has been detected in Israel and has grabbed headlines worldwide. As the Delta cases continue to spread and Omicron has been rearing its ugly head, this double-infection has obviously sent alarm bells ringing.
#BREAKING: #Israel records first case of #florona disease, a double infection of #COVID19 and influenza: Al-Arabiya https://t.co/PTTLP4n0rS pic.twitter.com/mYpgnG8ZE1
Before we give you the details, allow us to make it very clear: Florona is NOT a variant of SARS-CoV 2. Rather it is a double infection, from where it derives its name — flu + corona. The first case was diagnosed in a pregnant woman at a hospital. The woman was not vaccinated against either Covid-19 or influenza, according to the Israeli newspapers. The local media further reported that the doctors have been confirming a surge in the cases of influenza in the past few weeks.
Influenza is common and we’re already dealing with Covid-19. So why the additional worry?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is possible to catch both diseases at the same time. Experts are worried because Florona indicates a major breakdown of the immunity system. With two, instead of one, viruses entering the human body at the same time, the immunity is severely compromised and the health bodies worry that this may lead to a ‘twindemic’.
According to a report in The Atlantic, this was not the worry last year last winter as the Covid-enforced protocols ensured the curb on the spread of influenza as well. Masks, social distancing, lockdowns and restrictions ensured that the cases of influenza were much lower than normal during the last flu season (late 2020 and early 2021) in the US.
What are the symptoms?
Covid and influenza have similar symptoms — cough, cold, fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache and fatigue. However, there is a difference in the time period when the symptoms start showing. Once the virus enters the body, flu symptoms might start showing in three to four days. It takes anywhere between two and 14 days for the Covid symptoms to appear, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both the pathogens are air and fomite-borne and infect the same human tissues — respiratory tract, and nasal, bronchial, and lung cells, according to a study published in Nature.
There is very little known about concurrent infection. However, WHO says that the symptoms may vary among people — some may have no symptoms (asymptomatic), some may have mild symptoms, and some may suffer from severe disease. Only the PCR can confirm the infection. And for both viruses, different PCR tests are performed as the genotypes are different.
As both the infections take a toll on the pulmonary or the respiratory system, the severity of Florona can lead to pneumonia and can affect the heart in extreme cases, leading to myocarditis.
If it is inevitable, what can you do about it?
According to WHO, the most effective way to prevent hospitalisation and severe Covid-19 and influenza is vaccination. Israel has started administering fourth vaccine shots to the immune-compromised population. As for those in countries like India who are awaiting their third dose, the safest bet is social distancing. More so, if one is in the vulnerable and immune-compromised bracket.
Get your shots once they become available and never let the guard down. In any case, even with Covid alone, that’s not an option.
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‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort