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Return of Flu And Covid-19: How Big A Threat Can These Pose On People's Health

With the change in season, flu has become as concerning as COVID-19 as both of them have similar symptoms (Image: Shutterstock)

With the change in season, flu has become as concerning as COVID-19 as both of them have similar symptoms (Image: Shutterstock)

Experts are hinting about fears of a twindemic, i.e. COVID-19 as well as flu in the coming winter months.

With the change in season, flu has become as concerning as COVID-19 as both of them have similar symptoms. This creates a lot of confusion among people making it tough to get the right diagnosis. The rise in flu cases at a time when the pandemic isn’t completely over is increasing the stress on preventive care and vaccination. Experts are hinting about fears of a twindemic, i.e. COVID-19 as well as flu in the coming winter months. Here is how big a threat these two viral illnesses can cause during the winter season-

Will COVID-19 safety measures downplay the flu risk?

Immune responses to COVID-19 as well as influenza are the same in some ways. While a relatively recent infection or vaccination provides good protection against a subsequent infection, but soon it starts to decrease. Social distancing measures used to curb COVID-19 are effective in reducing the spread of influenza too. It has been observed that social distancing measures have limited people’s exposure to flu as well over the last 18 months.

How the return of the flu season can affect us?

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When flu does return, it may affect more people and cause more severe diseases than a typical flu season. It’s not easy to predict when exactly flu will return, nor how much worse effect it will have. However, if the influenza virus or other respiratory virus starts to spread, the number of cases will rise quite rapidly.

Can vaccines help?

There are several safe and effective flu vaccines that reduce both the risk of infection and severe disease, but they aren’t as effective as most of the current COVID-19 vaccines. Flu viruses mutate more quickly and end up circulating, changing every year. With flu cases have been low in the past 18 months, predicting which viruses will be dominant this winter is more difficult than usual. Hence, it’s also difficult to say whether the available vaccines will be helpful or not.

How flu combines with COVID-19 risk?

Winter flu has always been added pressure on both General practitioners and hospitals every year. At a time when the health service is hugely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be especially difficult to handle flu. Also, there’s a risk of co-infection which means to have COVID-19 as well as another bacterial, fungal or viral infection. In such a case, the mortality rates are likely to increase rapidly. If influenza does return, it’s likely to affect more people than in most pre-COVID-19 years and cause more deaths.

Keeping all the possibilities in view, it is doubly that people take up influenza as well as COVID-19 vaccines.

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first published:October 20, 2021, 09:46 IST