DORAL, FL – Flu season is behaving radically different this year and has hit a new positive record thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, revealed an AP report.
According to a surveillance system that is about 25 years old, on a national level, “this is the lowest flu season we’ve had on record,” said Lynnette Brammer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the agency.
Deaths rates are proof of that. So far only one pediatric flu death has been reported compared to the 92 deaths reported at the same point in last year’s flu season.
Hospitalizations are also at the lowest level across the nation. “I have seen zero documented flu cases this winter,” said Dr. Nate Mick, the head of the emergency department at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
The same scenario is seen in Oregon, the state’s capital, where the outpatient respiratory clinics affiliated with Salem Hospital have not seen any confirmed flu cases. “It’s beautiful,” said the health system’s Dr. Michelle Rasmussen.
This new mark, according to the report, is quite astonishing considering flu has long been the country’s biggest infectious disease threat. In recent years, it has caused 600,000 to 800,000 annual hospitalizations and 50,000 to 60,000 deaths.
And what seems to be the reason behind this? Experts say COVID-19 safety measures, such as wearing a face covering, social distancing and virtual learning, have brought double protection to the population because they have prevented the coronavirus as well as the flu at the same time.
“Many parents will tell you that this year their kids have been as healthy as they’ve ever been, because they’re not swimming in the germ pool at school or day care the same way they were in prior years,” Dr. Mick said to the AP.
Other reasons behind the decline in cases involve the fact that more people has vaccinated against the flu and fewer people are traveling.
More than 190 million flu vaccine doses were distributed this season, although due to the fact that the number of infections has reached the lowest levels it’s difficult for CDC to calculate how well the vaccine is working, according to Lynnette Brammer.
In addition, scientists are also explaining the coronavirus somehow is reducing the prevalence of flu and other bugs widely common in the fall and winter.
“Scientists don’t fully understand the mechanism behind that, but it would be consistent with patterns seen when certain flu strains predominate over others,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, a flu expert at the University of Michigan.