A new study has suggested that exposure to the dengue fever may provide some level of immunity against COVID-19.

The yet-to-be-published study led by Duke University professor Miguel Nicolelis analysed the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil, and found that there were lower infection rates and slower case growths at locations in the country that had suffered intense dengue outbreaks this year or last.

"This striking finding raises the intriguing possibility of an immunological corss-relativity between dengue's Flavivirus serotypes and Sars-CoV-2 (which causes COVID-19)," the study said, according to Reuters.

"If proven correct, this hypothesis could mean that dengue infection or immunisation with an efficacious and safe dengue vaccine could produce some level of immunological protection afainst the coronavirus," it added.

The study was being published ahead of peer review on the MedRxiv preprint server and will be submitted to a scientific journal.

There have been previous reported cases where COVID-19 positive patients were misdiagnosed as having dengue.

According to Nicolelis, further studies are needed to prove the connection between the two diseases.

Besides Brazil, which has the world's third highest number of COVID-19 infections (4.5 million) with over 137,000 deaths, the scientists also studied other parts of Latin America, as well as Asia and islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans - and found a slower spread of COVID-19 in areas which had earlier suffered dengue outbreaks.

The breaking finding was made by accident, when Nicolelis and his team were studying the pattern of COVID-19 infection throughout Brazil and found that there were case-free spots on the map.

"It was a shock. It was a total accident. In science, that happens - you're shooting at one thing and you hit a target that you never imagined you would hit," Nicolelis was quoted saying.

Source: Reuters
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