Pollen likely seasonal factor in inhibiting flu-like epidemics. A Dutch study into the inverse relation between pollen counts, hay fever and flu-like incidence 2016-2019

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Jul 20;727:138543. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138543. Epub 2020 Apr 17.


There is uncertainty if current models for the Covid-19 pandemic should already take into account seasonality. That is because current environmental factors do not provide a powerful explanation of such seasonality, especially given climate differences between countries with moderate climates. It is hypothesized that one major factor is overlooked: pollen count. Pollen are documented to invoke strong immune responses and might create an environmental factor that makes it more difficult for flu-like viruses to survive outside a host. This Dutch study confirms that there is a (highly) significant inverse correlation between pollen count and weekly changes in medical flu consults, and that there is a highly significant inverse correlation between hay fever incidence, as measured by prescribed medication revenues, and weekly flu consults. This supports the idea that pollen are a direct or indirect factor in the seasonality of flu-like epidemics. If seasonality will be observed during the covid-19 spread as well, it is not unlikely that pollen play a role.

Keywords: Environmental factors; Flu-like epidemics; Pollen induced immune response; Seasonality; Statistical analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pollen
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal*
  • Seasons


  • Allergens