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Influenza disappeared in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic


New York (AP) —February is usually the peak of the flu season, and clinics and hospitals are full of suffering patients. But this year is not the case.

Influenza has virtually disappeared from the United States and has been reported at much lower levels than has been seen in decades.

According to experts, the measures taken to fend off the coronavirus (masking, social distance, virtual education) are: “Weird” Of influenza and COVID-19. They say that increasing the number of people vaccinated against the flu probably helped, as did the number of travelers decrease.

Another possible explanation: The coronavirus essentially sets aside the flu and other insects that are common in the fall and winter. Scientists don’t fully understand the mechanism behind it, but when it matches the pattern seen when certain flu strains dominate other strains, Arnold, a flu expert at the University of Michigan. Dr. Monto said.

“This is the worst flu season ever,” said Lynnette Brammer of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a surveillance system about 25 years ago.

Hospitals say that the normal stable flow of flu-affected patients has never been achieved.

“No cases of influenza have been recorded this winter,” said Dr. Natemic, head of the emergency department, at the main medical center in Portland, the state’s largest hospital.

Same as above in the capital of Oregon. No cases of influenza have been identified at outpatient respiratory clinics affiliated with Salem Hospital.

“It’s beautiful,” said Dr. Michel Rasmussen of the Health System.

The number is surprising given that influenza has long been the country’s largest infectious disease threat. In recent years, 600,000 to 800,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 to 60,000 deaths have been accused annually.

Around the world, influenza activity is at very low levels in China, Europe, and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. And that follows reports of influenza in South Africa, Australia and other countries. Southern Hemisphere winter months From May to August.

Of course, it’s not the same as the coronavirus, which killed more than 500,000 people in the United States. COVID-19 cases and deaths reached new heights in December and January before they began to decline recently.

However, flu-related hospitalizations are only a small part of where they stand, even in the most mild seasons, said Brammer, who oversees the CDC’s tracking of the virus.

Although it is difficult to quickly collect influenza death data for the entire US population, CDC personnel continue to count child deaths. One childhood flu death has been reported so far this season, compared to 92 reported at the same time last year’s flu season.

“Many parents will say that their children are as healthy this year as they used to be, because they aren’t swimming in school or day care bacterial pools as they were in the previous year.” Mick said.

Some doctors even say they stopped sending samples for testing because they don’t think the flu is present. Nonetheless, many laboratories use a “multiplex test” developed by the CDC to check samples for both coronavirus and flu, Brammer said.

Over 190 million influenza vaccinations Was distributed Brammer said it would be difficult for the CDC to calculate the effectiveness of the vaccine each year this season, but due to the very low numbers of infections. She said she simply didn’t have enough data.

It is also challenging the flu vaccine plan for next season. Such work usually begins with identifying the flu strains that are prevalent around the world and predicting which flu strains will prevail over the next year.

“But there aren’t many notable (flu) viruses,” Brammer said.


The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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