Until the arrival of COVID-19, our biggest concern when it came to seasonal illness was the flu. Unfortunately, it still is, as two preliminary studies (not peer reviewed) point out; since this year there could be an increase in cases among children due to the low immunity of the population compared to last year. It is not something new; in fact we have already begun to see it with other respiratory diseases and it is what some pediatricians call “immunity debt”.
The investigations, carried out with mathematical models, indicate that in the United States there could be a 20% increase in new flu cases in the winter of 2021-2022. The two investigations (you can read here and here) estimate that this year there could be some 600,000 hospitalizations for influenza in the country; that is, 100,000 more than in a normal year. Let’s not forget that flu causes 1 billion cases a year worldwide. Of these, between 3 and 5 million are serious and about 650,000 patients die, according to WHO data.
Unfortunately, flu is not the only active respiratory illness right now. Flu and COVID-19 will have to coexist again between this October and February of next year. And that implies that there could be a collapse in the hospitals.
What will the flu be like in Spain this year?
Nevertheless, let’s not be alarmists either: vaccination in Spain is going very well, we have just reached 70% of immunized people. And, although we have to forget about group immunity, they are still very good figures. Furthermore, the situation in this country is very different from that of the United States. For example, there the masks stopped being mandatory last May. Instead, in Spain they are still in closed places and in outdoor areas with crowds of people. They will also be during the course in education centers.
But What could happen to the flu in Spain this year? It is too early to give an answer, but we can look at another studyThis time it was peer-reviewed and published in the scientific journal Vaccines. The research carried out by a team from University Hospital of Valladolid points out that, after the milder flu variants, in 72% of the epidemics the following winter is usually more intense, starts earlier and generates more infections, as we already explained in CVBJ.biz.
The side effect of masks
The Safety measures to avoid flu are the same as for COVID-19. Therefore, if we maintain a physical distance from people; we wear masks and wash our hands frequently we don’t have to fear the flu. On the other hand, with this pandemic we have also learned a very important thing: not to leave home with symptoms. This would also reduce the spread of flu.
Masks are saving us from a very serious illness, so their effectiveness is not in doubt
Although the masks have kept us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic; the reality is that they have also brought us to this new panorama. Lack of contact with pathogens decreases immunity to them, so Flu case increases and hospitalization could occur; just like we have been seeing it with other respiratory illnesses like bronchiolitis in children.
Children, flu and masks
Masks are saving us from a very serious illness, so their effectiveness is not in doubt. The fact that the flu or other respiratory diseases appear now is just a side effect to keep in mind in the coming months. Children must have contact with these pathogens to have a strong immune system and the mask prevents it. Therefore, going to school with masks may not be the best option for your future health, especially now that the worst part of the pandemic, in principle, has passed.
We cannot assure you that there will be no more flu cases this year in Spain. But we can get vaccinated to avoid it; especially people people over 65 years and under 65 years of age at high risk. It is also important that people who deal with these risk groups, such as caregivers and health professionals, get vaccinated against the flu; but also cohabiting people. Do not be afraid of the flu, we still have time to solve it and end 2021 with a good taste in our mouths.