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With no coronavirus vaccine in sight, experts push other shots

Naomi Kresge and Marthe Fourcade
Bloomberg

Since there’s no vaccine against the new coronavirus, health experts are pushing other injections in preparation for the worsening outbreak.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, the country’s top public health monitor, urged people to make sure they’re up-to-date on shots against lung infections such as whooping cough and pneumonia. A Sanofi executive earlier this month advised reporters at a media briefing to get their seasonal flu injections.

Preventing other disorders is important because an infection in an already weakened immune system can result in more serious symptoms, the Koch Institute’s president, Lothar Wieler, said at a press conference.

In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta. Since there’s no vaccine against the new coronavirus, health experts are pushing other injections in preparation for the worsening outbreak.

“At this time, the vaccinations that protect against lung infections are particularly important,” Wieler said.

Drugmakers such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Moderna Inc. are working to develop vaccines for the coronavirus that emerged in China late last year, but any product will require many more months of development.

Vaccines have been the subject of controversy since a 1998 study of 12 youngsters published in the Lancet medical journal linked a shot for measles, mumps and rubella to autism.

While all but two of the 12 authors of the study have since retracted its findings, the effects have lingered. The World Health Organization lists vaccine hesitancy as one of the 10 major health threats to the world, alongside climate change and lethal pathogens like Ebola.

“People should get the protection that they can,” said David Loew, who heads French drugmaker Sanofi’s vaccines business, at a briefing earlier this month. “It’s never too late to get a flu shot.”

Such preparations will help reduce the burden on health-care systems, Syra Madad, senior director, System-wide Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health + Hospitals, said in a tweet.

With assistance from Rudy Ruitenberg.