Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, America needs to be prepared for the upcoming flu season, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn warned this week.
“I think what we can say is that we need to be prepared for that — I learned a long time ago as a cancer doctor that I don’t have a crystal ball, but we need to have in place what we need to respond to flu plus COVID,” Hahn said Wednesday during an appearance on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria” with host Maria Bartiromo.
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“[The FDA] is evaluating different tests that can test simultaneously, at the same time, for both [the] flu and for COVID so that if someone goes in to see their doctor and it’s flu season there can be made a determination about whether it’s flu or COVID-19,” he added.
Hahn told Bartiromo that the FDA is working “very closely” with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the manufactures of flu vaccines “to make sure we have enough flu vaccine available.”
“So again, follow the CDC guidelines with respect to the flu vaccine — we definitely want more people to vaccinate against flu. And then, of course, we’re waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine as well,” he added, noting that the FDA is also working with manufacturers to ensure there is an adequate supply of medications used to reduce the severity of the flu.
“So there’s no crystal ball, Maria, but obviously we want to be prepared so Americans can have the right medical countermeasures in place for both COVID-19 and for the flu,” he continued.
Asked if the flu vaccines provide any protection against the novel coronavirus, Hahn expressed doubt as “the vaccines are pretty specific for influenza versus COVID-19.” But, he quickly noted, “that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t get the flu vaccine because flu is also a significant public health problem in the country.”
Hahn recommended waiting for the CDC’s “very robust guidance” about this year’s flu season before receiving the vaccine. “The FDA’s role in this is to help ensure the supply of the vaccine and therapeutics,” he concluded.
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Experts have previously warned that a “second wave” of the deadly virus could coincide with the start of flu season, proving to be even more devastating than the enduring COVID-19 pandemic. CDC Director Robert Redfield in April encouraged all Americans to consider getting a flu shot in an effort to prevent hospitals from becoming overburdened when flu season arrives.
Fox News’s Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.