Feb 25, 2021 - Health

"Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis

Illustration of needles, vials and flu virus

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Reports of the flu have "virtually disappeared" in the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic, the AP reports, during a season when the disease would otherwise be packing doctors' offices and hospitals.

The intrigue: The drop in flu illnesses is in part a byproduct of efforts intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 — like wearing masks, social distancing, and remote schooling, experts tell AP. The significant drop in travel, as well as a public push to encourage people to get the flu vaccine, also likely had an effect.

The bottom line: Nationally, Centers for Disease Control scientist Lynnette Bramme said it's likely the "lowest flu season we've had on record," according to a surveillance system that has been operating for 25 years.

  • "The numbers are astonishing considering flu has long been the nation’s biggest infectious disease threat," AP writes.
  • The flu typically results in 600,000 to 800,000 hospitalizations a year, and between 50,000 and 60,000 deaths.

The big picture: Flu activity has also been down in China, Europe, South Africa, Australia and other parts of the globe during their respective peak seasons as well.

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