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  • A Sri Lankan health worker fumigates insecticide to curb mosquito breeding in an attempt to control dengue fever in Colombo, Sri Lanka. September 7, 2020.

    A Sri Lankan health worker fumigates insecticide to curb mosquito breeding in an attempt to control dengue fever in Colombo, Sri Lanka. September 7, 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA/CHAMILA KARUNARATHNE

Published 21 September 2020
Opinion

The preliminary findings are still unverified and are part of an unpublished study. However, prior research has found that patients with dengue antibodies can test COVID-19 positive falsely, even if they never contracted the disease.

Scientists from Duke University have found that dengue fever and COVID-19 could have an inversely proportional relationship. The mosquito-transmitted disease might induce some degree of immunity from the respiratory illness.

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The team led by Professor Miguel Nicolelis crossed the information on the geographical distribution of both viruses in Brazil. They found that those locations with high dengue fever rates in 2019 and 2020 outbreaks had the lowest COVID-19 toll.

“This indicates that there is an immunological interaction between two viruses that nobody could have expected because the two viruses are from completely different families,” Nicolelis said.

The preliminary findings are still too uncertain and are part of an unpublished study. However, prior research has found that patients with dengue antibodies can test COVID-19 positive falsely, even if they never contracted the disease.

According to the investigation, the COVID-19 impact was milder in regions like Paraná, Santa Catarina, the Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Minas Gerais, the states with a harsh dengue impact in 2019 and 2020.  Besides, the experts found low dengue fever rates in the hardest COVID hit states as Amapá, Maranhão, and Pará.

“If proven correct, this hypothesis could mean that dengue infection or immunization with an efficacious and safe dengue vaccine could produce some level of immunological protection” against the coronavirus, the study said.

The scientists found the same crossing pattern between the diseases in other Latin American regions, Asia, and several islands in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. The unexpected finding could lead to alternative treatments for the virus as experts predict the start of vaccinations for 2021. 

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