Insight into interaction between viruses

Different viruses that cause respiratory complaints affect each other. Pediatrician and epidemiologist Patricia Bruijning-Verhagen will investigate what this influence is and how we should take it into account – for example with vaccination – with her Vidi grant. “Some viruses reinforce each other or actually weaken each other. If, for example, you use a vaccine to reduce the presence of one virus, this can influence the presence of another virus. It is also possible that going through, for example, a coronavirus infection makes you temporarily less likely to have an influenza infection.”

In the study Patricia and her colleagues will first observe a group of young children during a winter season. “We look at what infections they successively go through and whether there is any evidence of interactions between those infections. On the basis of this data, we develop mathematical models that allow us to study how, for example, a flu season impacts the occurrence of other respiratory viruses, such as the SS virus or coronavirus. 

Then we use these mathematical models to simulate what would happen if you introduced a vaccination against one of these viruses. We then not only look at the virus in question, but also at its effects on other viruses.” By investigating all these interactions between respiratory viruses, we will soon be better able to determine which (combination of) vaccinations yields the most health benefits or which, in contrast, have a negative influence on each other.