COVID measures could keep flu in check this year
The Southern Hemisphere is already seeing some positive trends
ATLANTA (CNN) – The threat of flu season may be lower this year, because of all the efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus, a new report says.
“If we continue doing the right thing for COVID, we may not see flu this season,” according to Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University.
The reason? The same measures we’ve been using to slow the spread of COVID-19 – like mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing – can also help stop the spread of flu.
Countries in the Southern Hemisphere are already seeing some positive trends.
“Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina almost saw no flu this past winter because they were doing the things for COVID,” Del Rio said.
The same trend could play out when flu season hits the United States.
A new report on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website found a reduction in flu cases at the beginning of the pandemic.
Now, some of that can be attributed to the waning of flu season, but researchers also noted the summer circulation of the flu is currently at historic lows.
Even with that information, experts are still recommending flu shots.
“The one thing we don’t need is the duel epidemics of flu plus COVID happening at the same time,” Del Rio said.
The researchers suggest that some of these mitigation measures, including the flu vaccine, could be useful during future flu seasons, particularly for populations at highest risk for developing severe disease or complications.
While the flue circulates year-round, the CDC says most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.
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