Pre-covid horrors back: What's the danger of new outbreaks of influenza and SARS?

Author : News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

According to the latest data, the incidence of seasonal influenza worldwide remains low. But with the return to normal life, the risks of an infection increase.
10:14, 21 October 2021

In previous seasons, the incidence of influenza worldwide was incredibly low - among other things, the reason was lockdown, wearing masks, disinfecting hands. Restriction of movement and work from home as a bonus also overcame SARS and flu, which spread according to the same principle as the coronavirus. For example, in the UK, people were only allowed to go out to restaurants and offices at the end of June.

With the expansion of the mass vaccination campaign against Covid-19, the world is gradually returning to its usual life, and with it, it recalls old troubles in the form of seasonal infectious diseases.

We are looking into the scale of the danger of outbreaks of influenza and SARS in the new epidemic season - 2021/2022 in Ukraine and other countries and is it too late to get vaccinated against them.

Related: Lack of oxygen, high incidence, record mortality: Last news on Covid-19 in the world and in Ukraine

What's the danger of this year?

According to the forecast of the World Health Organization, in the new epidemic season in Ukraine, 4 strains of the influenza virus are likely to circulate:

a virus like A / Victoria / 2570/2019 (H1N1) pdm09,

a virus like A / Cambodia / e0826360 / 2020 (H3N2),

a virus similar to B / Washington / 02/2019 (line B Victoria),

B / Phuket / 3073/2013-like virus (B / Yamagata lineage).

In a year and a half, the coronavirus pandemic has supplanted all other diseases, including seasonal flu, into the background. According to experts from the American CDC, influenza activity was very low during 2020-2021 worldwide, despite the high level of testing.

Open source

“During the 2020-2021 season, the number of people hospitalized with influenza was too low to provide a stable estimate of the burden, as is the case for a typical influenza season. Influenza activity last season was the lowest since current reporting in 1997. The incidence of influenza, hospitalization and mortality were very low last season,” the CDC noted.

According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, in July 2020, about 2,000 cases of influenza were recorded, when in the same period in 2021 this number reached only 181 cases. Judging by the hospitalization of patients with influenza, this figure in the 2020-2021 season was the lowest since 2005.

Lyudmyla Slobodyanyk, WHO National Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Specialist, noted that the next season could be very unpredictable.

“We can see the normal circulation that we saw in previous seasons, or we may not see the circulation of viruses again, or influenza viruses can return with a vengeance, and perhaps in strains that we have not seen yet. So we need to be prepared," says Slobodyanyk.

It is important to test for seasonal flu, Covid-19, and get vaccinated against these diseases, Slobodyanyk said. Since the fact that there was no flu, last season does not mean that it will not be in the coming one.

Regarding the forecasts, Oksana Koshalko, head of the department for the organization of surveillance of the Center for Public Health (DSP), stated that the peak incidence of influenza and ARVI in Ukraine will be in October-November 2021.

The situation is different this fall. In developed countries, a significant part of the population has already been vaccinated against Covid-19, children are returning to school, adults are returning to offices and restaurants. The return of life to its usual course may be accompanied by the return of habitual infections. According to the forecast of David Matthews, professor of virology at the University of Bristol, in winter we will see a significant increase in the incidence of both influenza and ARVI.

Related: Seven more Ukrainian regions can enter “red” quarantine zone

Statistics in Ukraine and the world

In Kiev, in early October, the incidence of influenza and ARVI increased by 10.9%. But now the incidence of influenza has decreased. According to the latest data, as of October 18 in the capital for the 41st week of 2021, 15 thousand 791 patients with influenza and ARVI, including those on Covid-19, were registered.

The incidence rate is 33.2% below the epidemic threshold. Now the incidence rate is 533.1. In general, in the capital, there is a decrease in the incidence of 13.1% compared to the previous week, which occurred at the expense of both the adult and child population. So, children got sick - 7452 (decrease by 14.2%), adults - 8339 people (decrease by 14.2%).

In the structure of morbidity, children account for 47.2%, and in the previous week - 47.8%. Of these, 50.4% are school-age children. In particular, 3756 cases were registered. Over the past week, 1,339 people have been hospitalized in medical institutions, of which 150 are children.

Seasonal influenza activity remains low in the United States right now, according to the CDC (data for week 40 ending October 9, 2021).

In Canada, flu activity was exceptionally low between September 26 and October 9, 2021, according to Canada's weekly FluWatch report. Over the past two weeks, all influenza indicators have been at an extremely low off-season level (there were only 4 cases of influenza in people under 65 years of age).

The British Ministry of Health detected 15 cases of influenza in the 40th week. Hospitalization remains very low. Respiratory syncytial virus activity increased to 8.5%, while rhinovirus activity decreased to 14.8%.

Related: 22,415 new Covid-19 cases registered in Ukraine

How to Combine the Flu and Covid-19 Shot

In the context of the transition of some regions to the "red" zones with the mandatory requirement of vaccination against coronavirus, the question arises of how to combine vaccination against Covid-19 and against influenza.

Influenza vaccine
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The National Technical Expert Group on Immunization (STGEI) on October 4, 2021, allowed both vaccines to be administered on the same day.

Three types of vaccines are available in Ukraine:

  • Jisi flu quadrivalent (South Korea),
  • Vaxigripp tetra (France),
  • Influvac tetra (Netherlands).

It is best to get vaccinated against influenza strains before the viruses begin to circulate in order to develop immunity and a sufficient amount of protective antibodies. This takes about two weeks. However, vaccinations can be done later, even if seasonal outbreaks have already been recorded in your region, the Ministry of Health says.

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