Public well being measures like sporting a masks and avoiding shut contact with others may assist stop the forthcoming influenza season from complicating the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, White Home coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci mentioned on Thursday.
The US has been the nation “most severely hit” by the coronavirus with greater than 7 million Covid-19 circumstances and 205,000 deaths as of Wednesday, Fauci mentioned throughout a briefing concerning the significance of influenza and pneumococcal illness prevention throughout the pandemic.
“Actually a remodeling pandemic of historic nature, and we’re not by way of with it but,” mentioned Fauci, director of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Illnesses.
Well being officers will quickly face a “diagnostic problem” as the coronavirus overlaps with the Northern Hemisphere’s flu season, which the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention says sometimes peaks between December and February, because the signs of each ailments are very comparable, he warned.
These shared signs embody fever, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, runny or stuffy nostril, complications, muscle pains or physique aches and doubtlessly vomiting and diarrhea.
“There’s appreciable concern as we enter the autumn and the winter months and into the flu season that we’ll have that dreaded overlap of two respiratory ailments, particularly influenza and Covid-19,” he mentioned.
The flu can kill between 12,000 and 61,000 folks and hospitalize as much as 810,000 folks within the U.S. yearly, Fauci mentioned.
In the meantime, Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the Nationwide Basis for Infectious Illnesses, mentioned that solely 59% of individuals plan to get vaccinated in opposition to the flu this season, citing a current research from the muse. Lower than half of U.S. adults had been vaccinated in opposition to the illness final 12 months, he mentioned.
The excellent news: Steps to stop the unfold of the coronavirus are additionally efficient in stopping the unfold of the flu, comparable to sporting face coverings, avoiding crowds, frequent hand washing and disinfecting surfaces.
“Steps to struggle the flu and Covid-19 overlap enormously,” Fauci mentioned Thursday. “We do not need these two ailments collectively.”
A CDC study published in mid-September discovered that the flu season within the Southern Hemisphere between April and July was way more subdued in contrast with earlier years. Information from Australia, Chile and South Africa discovered that solely .06% of greater than 83,000 collected specimens returned optimistic, far decrease than the close to 14% price in earlier years.
“They’d a really very mild flu season,” Fauci mentioned, including that the U.S. may “have the identical factor” if persons are vaccinated and observe public well being measures.
The research additionally discovered that the flu declined sharply inside the two weeks earlier this 12 months when many states shuttered faculties and inspired social distancing and masks sporting. Nonetheless, researchers famous within the research that a few of that decline may very well be as a result of folks stopped searching for routine well being companies.
Generally recommended public well being measures to curb Covid-19’s unfold together with a flu vaccine “may considerably cut back influenza incidence and impression” this upcoming season, the researchers mentioned.
Fauci has warned this week that the U.S. is “not in a great place” as colder months loom and the variety of newly reported coronavirus circumstances continues to swell past 40,000 folks on daily basis. The nation ought to intention for every day new circumstances under 10,000, not round 40,000 because it at present stands, he mentioned.
“Get your self and your loved ones vaccinated,” Fauci mentioned. “I used to be vaccinated two days in the past. I really feel nice, I am glad I did it. Hopefully it can defend me and my household.”