Weather, coronavirus and flu: Expert fears an “explosive” cocktail

Concerns of the scientific community about the spread of coronavirus and influenza cases

The concerns them about the possibility of an “explosive” cocktail coronavirus and influenza in society expressed by experts as the temperature falls and the weather becomes more autumnal.

For the past two years the very strict restrictions on our movements to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have also resulted in the elimination of the influenza virus. Distances, masks and high prevention have resulted in flu cases in the last two winters being minimal but the gradual withdrawal of measures against coronavirus raises concerns among experts as the possibility of the coexistence of coronavirus and influenza in society may be explosive.

The concerns of flu experts have been expressed since last May when a historical record was set in the country: that of zero deaths and flu cases. This may be a good thing in itself but experts, due to a lack of flu cases to investigate have not been able to predict which strain of the virus would prevail among citizens so they can plan the flu vaccine for the winter ahead.

Theodoridou: Vaccination is the only solution

During the briefing on Monday, October 11 by the Ministry of Health on the coronavirus pandemic , Professor Maria Theodoridou made a special report on the flu virus. As she stated, the flu is “knocking on the door” of our country gradually for this year, so there is great concern among experts who see vaccination as the only solution. Theodoridou referred even to the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine which for about a month now has already started to be given (to health and immunosuppressed people) while now those over 65 have taken over but also those over 50 the side effects are less. Specifically, he mentioned:

” The third dose is given for reinforcement and longer duration of protection, ” said Maria Theodoridou, saying that the side effects are less and milder than those of the second dose of the vaccine.

 He said that people who took a third dose were eleven times less likely to become infected with the virus and 20 times less likely to get the disease.

He spoke of a hidden and painful pandemic highlighted by studies entitled “the covid orphan”. In every 4 adult deaths a child loses his parent. Thousands of children will bear the trauma of losing their parents and this underlines the need for prevention and maintenance of their mental health, said Ms. Theodoridou. He referred once again to the importance of vaccination and called on everyone to be vaccinated. 

American scientists: It is important to take the flu vaccine

A resurgence of the flu – and on a large scale – is seen for this winter and American scientists who do not rule out that in the coming years there will be seasonal outbreaks of the flu, precisely because during the pandemic the flu almost disappeared.

Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York who published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases  have developed a model that considers a massive outbreak of influenza quite possible. 

That’s why, as lead researcher Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sen Pei said, “this year it is more important than ever to get the flu vaccine. “While it is right to focus on protecting oneself from Covid-19, one must not forget the flu, which can also be fatal.”

Scientists estimate that the more time a country or region has had restrictive measures against coronavirus before they were most recently lifted thanks to vaccinations the more people will be vulnerable to the flu this year and in the years to come. In addition, the global suppression of influenza virus activity which has been a positive “side effect” of coronavirus prophylaxis makes it more difficult to predict which strains of influenza will circulate the most, making it difficult to develop effective influenza vaccines. In fact, it is possible for multiple strains of the flu to “raise their heads” at the same time, contributing to a worse outbreak.

Epidemiologist Amber Wynn of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there was evidence that strains of H3N2, H1N1 and B influenza are currently circulating in the world. record child deaths at that time. “That’s why it’s so important to get vaccinated against the flu this year,” he said.

Many scientists, however, admit that they do not know what to expect this year about the flu. “If anyone tells you they know, they don’t really know,” John Pageget of the Dutch Institute for Health Research in Utrecht told Nature magazine.

Most experts estimate that the flu will eventually recover – probably with intensity – in the northern hemisphere (where Greece is located) this winter. “Once we relax our good hygiene practices, the flu is likely to hit hard,” said Robert Ware, a clinical epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia.

Seasonal flu – usually – kills 290,000 to 650,000 people each year worldwide. However, during the two years 2020-21 it has – practically – almost disappeared from Earth. Typically, a large country like the United States recorded just 646 flu deaths last year and this year, when the average annual number of flu deaths is tens of thousands. The flu continues – however – to circulate at low levels in the tropics.

In addition to the flu, measures against the coronavirus have “suppressed” other bacterial infections, such as those that cause pneumonia and meningitis. On the other hand, rhinoviruses of the common cold have continued to spread throughout the pandemic, as they do not appear to be as vulnerable to precautionary measures against Covid-19 and, in addition, because they do not face much competition from other respiratory viruses. . Also, the other – less dangerous than SARS-CoV-2 – coronaviruses, which are also responsible for colds, have started to gradually increase to their pandemic levels.

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