Spare A Thought For Seasonal Flu
In The Age Of COVID-19 Seasonal Flu Is Still A Thing!
I could easily read a dozen more such is the intense media fervour around this indisputably serious and deadly virus.
And the epidemic is still far from over.
In fact, global public health authorities may have a new and potentially worse problem on their hands: the disease which until now has been largely confined to China appears to be spreading further afield.
At the moment no-one knows exactly where or how this is all going to end:
“COVID-19 is not well understood in terms of how contagious it is, what the incubation period is, why some people are affected more seriously than others and how it is changing, says TMVC Medical Director, Dr. Gio Miletto.
“These unknowns, without a vaccine to prevent it, or a treatment for it, are very concerning.”
Meanwhile Seasonal Flu Surges
Dr. Brent Wright is the president of the Kentucky Medical Association:
“While coronavirus is serious and its headlines are scary, the current threat level for this illness is low … Influenza is a much greater, deadlier virus that is already widespread.”
The stats back him up.
The Centres for Disease and Control based in Atlanta, estimates that Influenza A & B have infected more than 29 million Americans so far this flu season including 280,000 hospital visits and over 16,000 deaths.
Is The 2020 Seasonal Flu Vaccine Responsible?
The Canada-wide Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network (SPSN) – which helps to measure the effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccines – thinks so.
It’s a notoriously inexact science, but when the vaccine works it really works and when it doesn’t it often bombs.
Results from a study published in mid-February by the SPSN indicate that in general this year’s vaccine is working at the higher end of the effectiveness scale.
In fact, BC Centre for Disease Control immunologist Dr. Danuta Skowronski says 6 out of 10 in the sample group who got the seasonal flu shot were protected:
“This vaccine prevented about 60% of cases of influenza that would have otherwise occurred in unvaccinated cases … This is good news in that the vaccine is performing better than it has in previous years.”
Ps: Dr. Skowronski said she is also hopeful that concern and public interest around COVID-19 will lead to a greater appreciation for seasonal flu vaccination, and more people getting flu shots.
ERRATA: A Quick Word About A Universal Flu Vaccine (UFV)
(BTW, Pandemic is detailed, eye-opening and absorbing, you should definitely check it out if you have a subscription, their timing is heaven-sent!)
Anyway, researchers like the ones in the docuseries believe that recent outbreaks of pathogens like SARS, MERS and COVID-19 strongly point towards a future filled with more and bigger virus-driven pandemics.
A universal flu vaccine would prevent that from happening.
It would not only protect against the six current strains of seasonal flu, but would also act as a defence against all future flu viruses too.
The US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is currently conducting clinical trials of a possible UFV on human research participants.
However, a universal flu vaccine is not expected for at least another decade.
So in the meantime check out Pandemic.
It’s well worth a watch.