The Pandemic Might Really Be Good Information For Future Flu Seasons. Here is How

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So as to sluggish the unfold of COVID-19, many international locations all over the world have carried out protecting methods. These embrace quarantine and social distancing, faculty closures, and shutting eating places and different public locations.


Governments have additionally suggested folks to take better measures to guard themselves from contracting the illness, together with washing palms and sporting face masks.

However rising proof from researchers in Japan means that the present pandemic might have an effect on seasonal influenza transmission – and that we might anticipate to see total decrease flu charges this yr.

However simply how believable is that this and why may this be the case? An outline of the present proof on sure elements of flu transmission could present some perception.

Hygiene habits

The pandemic has prompted well being authorities to emphasize the significance of hand washing, sanitising and social distancing. When carried out appropriately, these easy public well being measures might work effectively in limiting the unfold of respiratory diseases such because the flu.

Like COVID-19, flu is transmitted by way of droplets of fluid from the nostril or mouth of somebody who’s sick. Over time, the virus is transferred to palms and different surfaces.

Hand washing with heat water and cleaning soap works to eliminate these droplets on our palms, destroying the virus. Sanitising works by inactivating the virus on contaminated palms or surfaces.


Previous to the pandemic, considerations about improper hand hygiene have been commonplace. Analysis from a UK-wide research urged hand washing was one thing folks weren’t significantly good at. The research discovered solely 32 p.c of males and 64 p.c of ladies washed their palms after utilizing a public lavatory.

In contrast, rising proof from a current survey carried out in March 2020, exhibits 83 p.c of individuals surveyed now wash their palms extra frequently.

Though it isn’t clear if each one washed for the beneficial 20 seconds, if this quantity is consultant of the broader UK inhabitants, it is attainable this might impact the reducing flu transmission.

College closures

Sure teams of the inhabitants usually tend to be affected by infections than others. Generally this happens for unknown causes, and typically it’s brought on by different underlying components (together with well being situations, resembling diabetes or coronary heart illness) that make folks extra prone to infections.

For flu, faculty kids have been recognized as a prone subgroup, they usually seem to have a excessive price of illness each outbreak. That is partly as a result of decrease immunity of kids and ample contact alternatives for transmission that come up inside faculties.

With country-wide faculty closures in place in most international locations to sluggish the unfold of the coronavirus, many kids are at the moment at house. It is believable this might restrict the transmission of flu to a sure diploma.


Social distancing

One other main issue that impacts flu transmission is how shut folks’s contact with an contaminated individual is. One research confirmed somebody with flu might unfold contaminated droplets to a distance of as much as 1.eight metres.

This might occur by way of coughing, sneezing or speaking.

After COVID-19 started to unfold, well being authorities referred to as for the adoption of social distancing. Restrictions on mass gatherings have been enforced, solely important journey was suggested, and most workplaces adopted distant working. Individuals have been additionally requested to remain round 2 metres away from anybody outdoors their family.

These pointers might scale back illness transmission on a big scale, and may restrict influenza transmission primarily based on what we find out about how far flu contaminated droplets can journey.

What do the numbers really say?

Whereas these connections make sense, what’s nonetheless not clear is the extent to which we are able to actually anticipate to see a discount in flu charges.

Measuring who’s contaminated may be difficult. The signs of flu may be just like signs brought on by different infections. It is also price noting that solely sufferers who go to a healthcare facility with flu signs are counted.


That being stated, within the second week of February 2020, Japan reported a 60 p.c discount in flu circumstances in comparison with the identical week in 2019.

Weekly stories from Public Well being England and the European Centre for Illness Management and Prevention additionally report reducing influenza exercise throughout the identical interval compared to earlier years.

Nevertheless, if both of those international locations are finishing up restricted flu testing as a result of stretched healthcare amenities in the course of the pandemic, these numbers could not mirror the true actuality. Likewise, these numbers could also be totally different to the fact, as folks might not be going to the physician or hospitals for concern of catching COVID-19. Estimates ought to subsequently be interpreted cautiously.

It is at the moment unknown if the supposed discount in transmission will end in fewer issues and deaths due to influenza.

But it surely’s essential that we attempt to discover out as a result of difficult circumstances of flu put extra burden on healthcare methods, and this might have implications for our efforts to cope with COVID-19. Because of this, we want extra information and research on the difficulty.

Whereas our new habits of hand hygiene and social distancing to restrict the affect of COVID-19 could have the potential to scale back flu transmission, lockdown measures are non permanent and flu is an unpredictable virus.

We are able to do our utmost finest to forestall the affect of each COVID-19 and flu by following authorities steering. In so doing, we can assist stop any additional pressure on our already stretched healthcare system. The Conversation

Concord Otete Omeife, Lecturer, College of Central Lancashire.

This text is republished from The Dialog underneath a Inventive Commons license. Learn the unique article.





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