Researchers at Duke University, in the United States, found a possible inverse correlation between infections by the new coronavirus and confirmed cases of dengue in Mato Grosso do Sul.
Data on the contamination of covid-19 were analyzed across the country and it was possible to observe that places that had more cases of dengue last year, and in the beginning of 2020, had fewer infections and deaths by coronavirus.
Full professor of neurobiology, biomedical engineering and lead author of the study, Miguel Nicolelis, said the Ministry of Health’s dengue map was analyzed.
The sites that took a long time for the coronavirus to spread, such as Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso and Paraná, were the same as there were also many cases of dengue. “It was complementary. We found an inverse correlation “, explained Nicolelis to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.
The group did the same experiment with cases of chikungunya, but there was no relationship. The dengue situation in other countries was then analyzed. According to the researcher, it is possible that the population already infected with dengue has a partial defense against covid-19.
“The two viruses are competing for the same susceptible population, but dengue needs a mosquito and covid is transmitted from person to person, much faster”, he points out.
“There is a study in Israel with 99 samples of dengue. In the beginning of the pandemic, they had the idea to test the samples of dengue for coronavirus and it was positive in 22. There are antibodies to covid and that supports our theory, but you have to do immunological validation ”, added Nicolelis.
The survey now studies extensive data from 71 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. The project coordinator argues that it is necessary to create a research consortium quickly to conduct studies throughout Brazil.
“We have samples and several specialists in the dengue area and we can create a large national project. We are accepting collaborations from all over the country, because this is a unique finding ”, he concludes.
If this relationship is proven, vaccines for dengue in development could be used for the coronavirus, even before the specific vaccine for covid is validated.
However, caution is needed. Infectologist and professor at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (UFMS), Julio Croda stressed the need for an individual and more elaborate analysis to be able to prove and establish some type of relationship between the two diseases.
“Other variables that can be confusing, may not have been captured. It does not have an individual analysis, with the cases of dengue and covid by region. It is necessary to analyze individuals who have had dengue. In research, we start to raise hypotheses, but we need clinical trials, ”said the researcher to the UOL portal.
The study is available in the research repository medRxiv.