By Dennis Thompson
THURSDAY, Sept. 17, 2020 (HealthDay Information) — The ultimate statistics are in for America’s final flu season, and the information is nice: Document low charges of influenza have been reported as circumstances plummeted in the course of the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
Why? Researchers from the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention imagine the social distancing measures put into place throughout the nation final spring saved greater than the new coronavirus at bay.
The 2019-2020 flu season ended weeks sooner than ordinary this yr, with flu infections declining sharply inside two weeks of the COVID-19 emergency declaration on March 1, the brand new examine discovered.
Influenza exercise in the US plunged, from about 30% of samples testing constructive for flu in early February right down to solely 2% the week of March 22, the researchers reported.
By comparability, earlier flu seasons in the US have prolonged into April and even Might, the examine confirmed.
“As a result of influenza and COVID-19 are transmitted in related style, it’s anticipated that group mitigation for one will have an effect on the opposite,” mentioned Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Middle for Well being Safety, in Baltimore. “That is clearly demonstrated within the information of the just-prior flu season in the US, in addition to the present flu season the Southern Hemisphere is in.”
Flu circumstances have additionally stayed unusually low in the course of the summer time, the researchers discovered. Solely 0.2% of samples have examined constructive for influenza on common in the US, in contrast with 1% to 2% in earlier years.
These numbers ought to calm public well being consultants anxious a couple of potential “twindemic” of COVID-19 and influenza circumstances swamping U.S. hospitals this fall and winter, Adalja mentioned. If most individuals make use of the ways that stop COVID-19 an infection, they’re most likely additionally maintaining themselves secure from the seasonal flu.
Primarily based on information from “sentinel” nations within the Southern Hemisphere that enter their flu seasons sooner than the US, it seems that COVID-19 prevention measures may certainly blunt the approaching 2020-2021 season in America, the brand new report suggests.
Australia, Chile and South Africa all confirmed extremely low flu exercise between June and August, the months that represent their typical influenza season, the researchers discovered:
- Solely 33 specimens examined constructive for flu out of greater than 60,000 in Australia throughout that interval.
- Simply 12 out of greater than 21,000 specimens examined constructive for flu in Chile.
- Solely six out of practically 2,100 South African samples examined constructive for flu.
In line with Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, director of world well being for Northwell Well being in New Hyde Park, N.Y., “The info from the Southern Hemisphere is extremely convincing that we get this cross-benefit of lowering flu numbers on the identical time we’re stopping COVID infections.”
To drive flu infections down even additional, as many individuals as potential must also get this yr’s flu shot, Cioe-Pena suggested.
“I believe individuals lose sight of the truth that we have now a vaccine for flu,” Cioe-Pena mentioned. “The flu vaccine mixed with the COVID social distancing measures may obliterate the flu epidemic in the US this yr, which might be a tremendous present the American society may give to well being care staff and first responders. If our flu numbers do not choose up the best way they do throughout a foul flu season, it may give us much more time to deal with COVID.”
The brand new report by Sonja Olsen, of the CDC’s Nationwide Middle for Immunization and Respiratory Ailments, and colleagues was revealed Sept. 18 within the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.