What happened to the coronavirus, the ‘twin-demic’ flu? Experts say

With the increase in coronavirus cases in late summer, experts warned of the potential for a so-called “twin-demic,” which they said would have seen hospital systems overwhelmed by both COVID-19 and the influx of patients with flu, but the increase never came. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that influenza activity in the US “remains lower than usual at this time of year,” which is typically the peak of diseases.

Since October 1, 2020, or the start of the flu season, there have been 165 laboratory-confirmed flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. According to the CDC, this is not only below average for this point the season, but is the lowest rate seen since data collection began in 2005.

So why did the influenza virus take a back seat to the coronavirus? Experts say it’s a combination of factors, but mitigation measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 likely played a role.


“The same phenomenon was found in the southern hemisphere during winter there (the months opposite ours) last year and was thought to be caused by the ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’ taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19: masks, shelters and social distancing, washing hands frequently and avoiding crowds indoors, “Dr. Henry Miller, a former FDA official and currently a principal investigator in health studies at the Pacific Research Institute, told Fox News.

School closings likely played a role as well, as early research suggests children transmit the flu virus better than COVID-19, explained Dr. Abisola Olulade, a family medicine physician in California.

Coronavirus mitigation measures, such as social distancing and wearing a mask, likely also contributed to a low spread of the flu virus, experts say.

Coronavirus mitigation measures, such as social distancing and wearing a mask, likely also contributed to a low spread of the flu virus, experts say.

“Flu transmission is more difficult than coronavirus transmission,” Olulade told Fox News. “Mitigation measures were more limited in their ability to prevent people from contracting COVID.”

Olulade said the impact mitigation measures had on decreasing flu cases raises an interesting question of whether some, such as wearing face masks in public, can remain in place after the pandemic ends.

“I can’t imagine the CDC is not thinking about this and I hope they are because it has made a huge difference,” he said.


Olulade also noted that while some may suggest that people weren’t getting tested for the flu amid coronavirus, the positivity rate for those who did remained lower than usual, indicating that viral spread in the community was really low, and it’s not a problem. what test was performed.

Dr. Eric Legome, president of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside, noted that not only was there a decrease in influenza activity this year, but also in other common respiratory illnesses. Legome said that a longer incubation period, higher infectivity and the absence of previous levels of immunity to the coronavirus also likely contributed to the increase in cases, while other diseases had little activity.


“It is difficult to predict what will happen to influenza and other seasonal viruses next year (or any year, and next year is particularly difficult),” Legome told Fox News. “Current interventions like masking, etc., may be necessary for a long time. This may serve to prolong the reduction in respiratory disease. It has been theorized, however, once these measures are reduced or eliminated, there may be a It significantly increases from the historical numbers of these infections. That is, we can see unusually severe cold and flu seasons due to factors such as increased susceptibility to some of these diseases. “

Miller said the strength of the flu virus next year will come down to a matter of probability and that it is impossible to predict whether a dangerous mutant will appear, one that generates new infections. The vaccine developed for next year may also influence the development of the season, but it could be difficult to find the correct formula based on the low number of strains circulating this season.


“We determine the vaccine strain by what happens in the southern hemisphere,” Olulade continued. “If we don’t have enough information, are we going to select the correct strain in the vaccine? We also don’t want to cause doubts about the vaccine, even if it is not completely protective, it does decrease [the] force of the virus. “

Source link