The Pandemic Could Actually Be Good News For Future Flu Seasons. Here’s How

In purchase to sluggish the distribute of COVID-19, several countries around the world have carried out protecting tactics. These incorporate quarantine and social distancing, college closures, and closing dining establishments and other general public spots.


Governments have also suggested men and women to consider larger steps to protect by themselves from contracting the disease, together with washing arms and wearing encounter masks.

But rising proof from researchers in Japan indicates that the current pandemic could have an impression on seasonal influenza transmission – and that we could assume to see all round lower flu charges this year.

But just how plausible is this and why might this be the scenario? An overview of the current proof on specific factors of flu transmission may offer some insight.

Hygiene behaviors

The pandemic has prompted overall health authorities to emphasise the worth of hand washing, sanitising and social distancing. When carried out the right way, these uncomplicated general public overall health steps could function well in limiting the distribute of respiratory ailments this sort of as the flu.

Like COVID-19, flu is transmitted via droplets of fluid from the nose or mouth of somebody who is sick. Over time, the virus is transferred to arms and other surfaces.

Hand washing with heat water and cleaning soap functions to get rid of these droplets on our arms, destroying the virus. Sanitising functions by inactivating the virus on contaminated arms or surfaces.


Prior to the pandemic, worries about inappropriate hand cleanliness were being commonplace. Investigation from a Uk-broad research recommended hand washing was a thing men and women were being not notably great at. The research observed only 32 per cent of guys and 64 per cent of girls washed their arms just after using a general public loo.

By contrast, rising proof from a latest survey executed in March 2020, reveals 83 per cent of men and women surveyed now clean their arms far more often.

Despite the fact that it can be not very clear if every single 1 washed for the recommended 20 seconds, if this number is agent of the broader Uk population, it can be achievable this could have an outcome on the reducing flu transmission.

University closures

Certain groups of the population are far more probably to be affected by bacterial infections than many others. In some cases this occurs for unknown explanations, and sometimes it is triggered by other underlying things (together with overall health problems, this sort of as diabetic issues or heart disease) that make men and women far more vulnerable to bacterial infections.

For flu, college children have been determined as a vulnerable subgroup, and they seem to have a substantial rate of disease every single outbreak. This is in element due to the lower immunity of children and sufficient contact alternatives for transmission that crop up inside schools.

With state-broad college closures in area in most countries to sluggish the distribute of the coronavirus, several children are at this time at home. It is really plausible this could restrict the transmission of flu to a specific diploma.


Social distancing

Another major factor that impacts flu transmission is how close people’s contact with an infected individual is. A single research confirmed somebody with flu could distribute infected droplets to a distance of up to one.eight metres.

This could happen via coughing, sneezing or talking.

Following COVID-19 commenced to distribute, overall health authorities termed for the adoption of social distancing. Restrictions on mass gatherings were being enforced, only crucial travel was suggested, and most offices adopted distant functioning. People today were being also asked to remain around two metres away from everyone outdoors their family.

These recommendations could decrease disease transmission on a large scale, and may also restrict influenza transmission dependent on what we know about how much flu infected droplets can travel.

What do the figures essentially say?

While these connections make perception, what is nevertheless not very clear is the extent to which we can really assume to see a reduction in flu charges.

Measuring who is infected can be difficult. The indicators of flu can be identical to indicators triggered by other bacterial infections. It is really also value noting that only clients who go to a health care facility with flu indicators are counted.


That currently being reported, in the next week of February 2020, Japan described a 60 per cent reduction in flu conditions in contrast to the very same week in 2019.

Weekly reviews from Community Overall health England and the European Centre for Sickness Management and Avoidance also report reducing influenza exercise all through the very same time period in comparison to preceding yrs.

Nevertheless, if both of these countries are carrying out limited flu screening due to stretched health care amenities all through the pandemic, these figures may not mirror the true actuality. Furthermore, these figures may be diverse to the actuality, as men and women may not be likely to the doctor or hospitals for worry of catching COVID-19. Estimates ought to for that reason be interpreted cautiously.

It is really at this time unknown if the supposed reduction in transmission will outcome in less issues and fatalities because of influenza.

But it can be essential that we try to uncover out because complicated conditions of flu place far more load on health care units, and this could have implications for our efforts to offer with COVID-19. As a outcome, we want far more info and studies on the difficulty.

While our new behaviors of hand cleanliness and social distancing to restrict the impression of COVID-19 may have the possible to decrease flu transmission, lockdown steps are momentary and flu is an unpredictable virus.

We can do our utmost very best to protect against the impression of the two COVID-19 and flu by adhering to govt advice. In so performing, we can support protect against any more pressure on our by now stretched health care system. The Conversation

Harmony Otete Omeife, Lecturer, University of Central Lancashire.

This write-up is republished from The Conversation less than a Innovative Commons license. Examine the first write-up.