COVID-19 response efforts could reduce flu toll, CDC says

Widespread adoption of social distancing and other measures to control the spread of COVID-19 could lead to a less severe flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, a new CDC report found.

Between Dec. 15, 2019, and March 7, more than 20 percent of respiratory specimens submitted to laboratories nationwide tested positive for flu. This figure sharply declined in March after the U.S. declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency and implemented numerous mitigation measures, including social distancing, mask-wearing and school or business closures. 

By the week of March 22, the number of respiratory specimens testing positive for the flu was just 2.3 percent and has remained below 1 percent since April 5. 

Based on this trend, researchers said the combination of flu vaccination and COVID-19 interventions could "substantially reduce influenza incidence and impact in the 2020–21 Northern Hemisphere season."

"However, given the novelty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of continued community mitigation measures, it is important to plan for seasonal influenza circulation in the United States this fall and winter," they added. 

View the full report here.

More articles on public health:
Global flu activity less than expected for this time of year, WHO says
26 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Sept. 18
US adult obesity rate surpasses 40% for first time, hiking COVID-19 risks


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