We do not hear much about the seasonal flu this year. The same drive to get everyone inoculated with the flu vaccine is ever-present, but the headlines are missing. Did we ever have headlines about the thousands, tens of thousands of people dying each year from seasonal influenza?
Seasonal Influenza Deaths
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html The CDC estimated that over 35 million people contracted seasonal influenza during the 2018-2019 season in the United States. There were nearly a half-million hospitalizations and over 34,000 deaths.
The season before that (2017-2018) reported 45 million cases, over 800,000 hospitalizations, and over 60,000 deaths. The season before that saw reports of nearly 30 million cases, 500,000 hospitalizations, and just under 40,000 deaths.
The Pandemic and Seasonal Influenza
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/covid19-is-surging-but-flu-cases-are-down As Gomer Pyle, USMC, used to say, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!”, the rate of infection this year is unremarkable. It is true that more adults have received flu shots this year than last, but is that a guarantee that you will not catch the flu?
In 2018, a bit over 160 million doses of influenza vaccine was distributed. Last year, almost 170 million doses were provided to the public. This season has seen a jump to almost 190 million doses by the end of November 2020.
Many experts claim the seasonal influenza cases are lower now in the season is because of the pandemic restrictions. Face masks, social distancing, and washing hands are good deterrents to the flu viruses.
The Yale Clinical Virology Laboratory reported that over 100 seasonal influenza cases were diagnosed in their lab last December. There have been no cases of the flu diagnosed this year. Another interesting observation about seasonal influenza is that it was nearly non-existent in the southern hemisphere this year.
https://www.mdlinx.com/article/what-will-the-2020-2021-flu-season-look-like/v5TAfqq0ZGINSrHffCDV2 Twindemic, a term applied to having two pandemics ongoing concurrently. Headlines are preparing us for the possible scenario that a third, fourth, or fifth wave of COVID-19 can exacerbate and complicate the care and treatment of coronavirus patients and seasonal influenza patients. How valid is this speculation?
There are other theories floating around also. The solution given by health authorities is to continue normal protections implemented during the pandemic and get a flu shot.
I agree that the pandemic precautions and restrictions have halted the spread of both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. We know a lot about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and what is working and what does not. We also know that the same flu virus that infected people in the 2019-2020 season may not be the same one spreading throughout the world today.
There are many influenza viruses. The vaccines provided each year are based on the best guess of which viruses will be present in the future. For example, if H1N1 is believed to be the primary virus for the 2020-2021 season, then the vaccines are made based on that assumption.
However, if that virus is not present in the 2020-2021 season, then the flu shot you get is worthless against that virus. I am guessing that the best guess for the 2020-2021 season was correct based on the number of cases to date.
Is there something scary coming? No one knows for certain. Precautions and restrictions are protecting many. Vaccines are being distributed. Flu shots can be found in many places.
Personal healthy precautions should keep most of us healthy.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com