Where Did This Year’s Flu Season Go?

Millions around the world braced for the flu as the season was approaching like a train that one could stop. Public health officials warned the public that the flu and the coronavirus coming together could mean even more widespread tragedy. Somehow, this year’s flu epidemic has been mild.

Last Season Vs. This Season Of Flu

The numbers of the 2019-2020 flu season stated that the flu was the cause for the hospitalization of over 400,000 people with 22,000 deaths. The flu season usually peaks in February, but the numbers are not showing a high rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recorded 165 hospitalizations due to the flu since October 2020.

The Why

Many experts state that the mild flu season could be due to people wearing masks and social distancing. A record number of people in 2020 got a flu shot as well. Kids are often the culprits of spreading the flu virus. They shed the virus for a long period of time, and they produce more of the virus. With schools turning to virtual learning, the students are not in contact as much as in previous years. This helps narrow the spread of any viral or bacterial disease.

It’s not just about the schools. Offices and other public areas are either closed or have limited attendance. The flu virus can live on a doorknob or a light switch for over a day. It also is easily transmitted when a person coughs or sneezes. With no one around, there is nowhere for the virus to land.

The “why” mainly boils down to the fact that people are doing their part to stop the spread of disease. Mass quantities of people don’t usually come together during the pandemic. Most public places require face masks. Schools enforce strict safety and health guidelines. This doesn’t mean next year will tell the same story.

Next Flu Season Expectations

Some experts fear the flu virus may be worst next year. Many may ease restrictions as the COVID numbers decline. The millions of people that didn’t get the flu virus, didn’t get that chance to build up antibodies against it. This means it’s crucial that people get a flu vaccine next Fall.

The Surge Of COVID-19 Vs The Flu

When COVID-19 hit the world, it took millions by storm. It’s known to be more infectious than the flu virus because most people don’t have the immunity needed to block it. COVID-19 has an infectious rate of 2 to 3, while the flu has an infectious rate of 1 to 2. This is calculated by finding the R number, the number of people that one person may infect.

The biggest issue with the coronavirus was that no one had antibodies at first, so most people contracted the virus upon interaction with an infected person. Most people have had many years to build up partial immunity to the flu virus. Another problem with COVID-19 is that it has a longer incubation period.

Most people know they have the flu within a few days after exposure. They’re able to isolate early. COVID-19 is often spread for over a week before a person even may experience any symptoms. Many people mistake COVID-19 symptoms for the common cold or allergies as well.

Mutations

The World Health Organization states that COVID-19 is mutating at slower than the seasonal flu. Scientists are always developing new vaccines for the seasonal flu virus because it mutates so quickly. The numerous Covid-19 vaccines do appear at this time to be effective with their new mutation. The truth of the matter is that all viruses mutate naturally. This does not mean that each of those natural mutations is more harsh and even more contagious. The present COVID-19 virus is simply mutating at a slower speed than the influenza virus.

The Future

The flu dates back to ancient Greece. It isn’t going to disappear off of the globe. Experts do predict if we continue to follow safety precautions, the flu should be minimal in the upcoming years.

Many of the strict guidelines put in place to help contain COVID-19 are now adopted into everyday life for many people. This should help minimize the spread of the flu in the future. It’s still all about washing hands and quarantining when one doesn’t feel well. Many people urge others to even wear masks during the peak of the flu season.

In conclusion, the world is learning about the coronavirus pandemic together. The way it ties in with the flu’s lower numbers is a learning curve. Thanks to the safety measures of face masks and physical distancing, the pandemic and the epidemic were contained as much as possible. Only time will tell what will happen next year. COVID-19 seems to have changed the rules and will continue to change how we approach different diseases in the future.