COVID-19 Shuts Doors to Flu but Keeps Them Open to Rhinoviruses

Biology (Basel). 2021 Jul 31;10(8):733. doi: 10.3390/biology10080733.


It is well known that rhinoviruses are distributed across the globe and are the most common cause of the common cold in all age groups. Rhinoviruses are widely considered to be harmless because they are generally perceived as respiratory viruses only capable of causing mild disease. However, they may also infect the lower respiratory tract, inducing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and exacerbations of asthma, bronchiolitis, etc. The role of rhinoviruses in pathogenesis and the epidemiological process is underestimated, and they need to be intensively studied. In the light of recent data, it is now known that rhinoviruses could be one of the key epidemiological barriers that may influence the spread of influenza and novel coronaviruses. It has been reported that endemic human rhinoviruses delayed the development of the H1N1pdm09 influenza pandemic through viral interference. Moreover, human rhinoviruses have been suggested to block SARS-CoV-2 replication in the airways by triggering an interferon response. In this review, we summarized the main biological characteristics of genetically distinct viruses such as rhinoviruses, influenza viruses, and SARS-CoV-2 in an attempt to illuminate their main discrepancies and similarities. We hope that this comparative analysis will help us to better understand in which direction research in this area should move.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; acute viral respiratory infections; epidemics; human rhinovirus; influenza; influenza A virus; pandemics.

Publication types

  • Review