The pandemic prevention methods have led to a significant drop in the number of influenza infections in the US, several studies suggest. Comparing the influenza infection rates last year with the current numbers, experts said that the numbers this year are the lowest ever for influenza infections in the country.
The Current Flu Season The Lowest In Number Of Influenza Infections In The US And Canada, Health Experts
Typically, the flu season that starts in the US in September sees a surge in flu infections. Last year’s CDC map of flu activity was riddled with very high activity areas. Several of these were listed as ‘Purple’ for the extreme levels of transmission these states had seen. However, the same for the current year has remained relatively green with only three cases being reported last week, by public labs across the country. This was from nearly a whopping 16000 samples taken last week. While nearly 25000 tests conducted by clinical laboratories have found only 14 cases of the common flu.
To date, there have been only 1585 cases of any flu variant reported this year and has led to the death of only one child. Comparing this to the last year’s numbers, 183000 and 195 respectively, has the experts scratching their heads.
Dr. Willian Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University says that this has been an exceptional flu season. “ Nobody has seen a flu season this low, ever. And some of us have some gray hair” he said. A network of hospitals including Vanderbilt has been unable to identify any cases of flu, despite actively testing for it among their patients.
Canada is also seeing all-time low numbers of flu infections. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, MD, of the Toronto General hospital expressed his amazement at the numbers. “ I Didn’t admit one person with influenza during the Christmas block at Toronto General Hospital this year”, he added. He says that a look through the national numbers for both the United States and Canada will confirm his conclusions. “There is just remarkably little influenza,” he says.
Dr. Bogoch says that the Covid-19 preventive measures taken throughout this season could answer the question of why and how. According to him, the first changes were the precautions such as masking, social distancing, and frequent handwashing. Although there are still those who don’t follow such guidelines, the majority of those who do cannot be ignored, he says. On top of that, the public health advisory to take flu vaccines has been taken up by many citizens. “ At Least in Canada, there was massive uptake of the flu vaccine this year,” he added.
The CDC officials have said that the final numbers of flu vaccinations in the US are not yet available, but so far it has topped last year’s numbers by 20 million doses. But this is the number of vaccine shots distributed, not necessarily meaning they were administered to patients. Dr. Bogoch said that a proper conclusion could be drawn only once the entire data is available. He opined that the decreased mobility and travel might also be a reason for the decrease in infections.