Experts predicted that the 2019/20 flu season in the Northern Hemisphere would be a bad one. And then it wasn’t. The COVID-19 pandemic hit, international travel ground to a halt, physical distancing and mask wearing became more common, and the flu went away. Part of the sudden decrease might be the result of health authorities in some areas focusing all their attention on COVID-19 and essentially not testing for influenza said John McCauley, PhD, director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre at the Francis Crick Institute in London, one of the six influenza surveillance centers in the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.
Modeling suggests that as population immunity wanes over the course of the “missing season,” big outbreaks could become more likely after life goes back to normal and public health measures implemented during the pandemic are eased said Rachel Baker, PhD, who studies public health and infectious disease at Princeton University’s High Meadows Environmental Institute. Dr. Baker predicts substantial outbreaks of RSV in future years, with a likely peak in the winter of 2021/22.
The experts say we have to prepare for a worse season, so remember even if a worst-case scenario never comes to pass, effective vaccines that are both available and widely used will help guard against a big influenza outbreak. Sorry, hate to be the bearer of bad news!
Stay the course, stay well, mask up, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!