As the country suffered from a devastating spike in coronavirus cases during the winter, the call from Old Dominion Pediatrics in Virginia got out of trouble. Callers whose family members are infected seek advice on how to isolate them at home to prevent other people from getting sick.
But no one asked about the flu.
The test results seen by Eric Freeman showed that dozens of his patients had coronavirus, but almost no one tested positive for the flu.
Freeman said in an interview on Monday: “The COVID has always been the main viral pathogen at the moment. It really does not allow enough space for the flu to fill up.” “Since before Thanksgiving, my office hasn̵
Public health experts, general practitioners and pediatricians have warned for several months that the surge in coronavirus cases during the winter months will be aggravated by the typical flu season, which kills thousands of Americans every year people. However, an interesting thing happened during the global health pandemic: the flu season was actually cancelled.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that between clinical laboratory results and public health laboratories, only 1893 Americans tested positive for the flu virus this year. By this point last year, more than 290,000 people had tested positive for the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in August that 198 children died from flu-related causes during the last flu season, a record high. So far this year, only one child has died, which is the lowest record since the beginning of record keeping in 2004.
“You never thought that there would be a silver lining [pandemic]”But this is almost a silver lining.” said Pediatrician Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University. “That means wearing masks and social distancing may reduce face-to-face classroom [does]. ”
This year, fewer than 1 in 1,000 people have been hospitalized for influenza, accounting for one-seventh of the proportion recorded in the last low-severity influenza season in 2011-2012.
U.S. health officials and vaccination experts usually collect key reminders about flu seasons that began to spread during the winter in our southern hemisphere (that is, summer).
However, even when officials warned of possible double-season respiratory disease warnings, the governments of Australia, Chile, and South Africa reported that the flu epidemic was below normal. With the implementation of new lock-in measures and restrictions, the virus curve in these three countries began to ebb faster than in the previous season.
“In the past twelve months, no one has had the flu season except for some countries in West Africa and some countries in Southeast Asia. This is in countries/regions that are indeed strictly closed, or in countries/regions that have not yet been strictly closed. This I am a little confused.” said Richard Webby, director of the Collaborative Center for Animal and Avian Influenza Ecological Research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The same thing seems to have happened in the United States. Compared with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, the flu is less transmissible, which means that masks and social distance have a greater impact on the total number of flu cases than the flu virus. School closure means one of the most important means to curb the spread between people.
Whitby said: “When we talk about the spread of influenza in the community, young children and schools are the main participants.” “Since many schools are not open or actually take control measures in schools, this has had a major impact on the outbreak of influenza. influences.”
Freeman said that parents have also listened to warnings from public health officials that their children should be vaccinated for flu. Freeman said that although the final data on the flu vaccine acceptance rate is still several months away, Freeman said that in practice south of Richmond, Virginia, the vaccine acceptance rate is much higher than in previous years.
“This is one of the best years since I received the flu vaccine in 15 years. This year, my parents are indeed engaged and very enthusiastic.” Freeman said. “This is where I can’t put the flu shot on the shelf.”
The coronavirus pandemic does not seem to be easy, and some experts warn that even the least harmful flu season on record may have some drawbacks. The typical flu season provides clues about what will become the main strain next year, which allows vaccine manufacturers to adjust the vaccination dose next year to specific strains. Without this knowledge, it may be more difficult to produce a vaccine that matches next year’s strain.
Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, director of the Institute of Global Health and Emerging Pathogens at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said: “There is not enough information about circulating viruses in the world.” “Because the spread of influenza is rare, We don’t know exactly what strains and mutations are currently circulating. This poses problems for vaccine development and whether it needs to be updated.”
David Wentworth, head of the Virology, Surveillance and Diagnostics Department of the Influenza Division of the CDC, said that WHO’s global influenza surveillance and response system is still testing 50,000 to 100,000 samples per week to identify major strains.
“The reduction in the number of positive specimens does make it more challenging to determine the best vaccine virus for each of the four major influenza viruses included in most influenza vaccines for the 2021-22 influenza season, but it should be noted that Winter Voss said in an email: “The selection and recommendation process of vaccine viruses does not depend solely on the flu viruses that are currently circulating. ”
The identification of the next strain also relies on genetic sequencing of the current strain, post-vaccine serological studies to show strains that may break out next year, prediction models and vaccine effectiveness studies.
There was no surge in influenza infections during the peak of influenza, which relieved the pressure that would have caused serious damage to the health care system when more than 100,000 Americans were being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals across the country. Moreover, the United States is still recording a large number of deaths caused by a disease called flu-like illness by the CDC, although in this case, the vast majority are due to COVID-19.
Influenza will not go away. Health officials have been paying attention to the worrying strains that may become the next threat to human health-WHO said in January that it is looking at outbreaks of H5N6 in China and H1N1 cases in China and the Netherlands. H1N2 in Brazil and H3N2 in a child in Wisconsin.
However, doctors hope that this year’s success in flu control will encourage people to accept more vaccines that are introduced in late summer and early fall.
“These ones [mitigation] These measures are really trying to reduce the spread of infectious respiratory viruses,” García-Stest said. “I don’t think we will reduce enough cases to completely prevent the spread of the virus. ”