The experts are warning about the possibility of a 'twindemic', or the overlap of flu season and an expected surge in Covid-19 cases this winter. 'Twindemic' is the co-occurrence of both the flu and the novel coronavirus and this can put excessive pressure on the already exhausted healthcare systems.
Although the flu and Covid-19 viruses differ in their pathogenesis, there is a cooperative effect thought to be induced causing both the cases to rise simultaneously and overwhelm healthcare resources. The flu virus globally kills about 650,000 a year as estimated.
Late last year the flu viruses started circulating in Europe at a 'higher-than-expected rate', which was otherwise believed to have temporarily eradicated due to the Covid-19 virus. Several countries risk an increase in case numbers for both Covid-19 and influenza. This phenomenon has been termed the 'twindemic'.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says in December the number of flu cases in ICU surged.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data says there were at least 43 cases in the last week of 2021.
French Health Ministry data says that three regions in France, including Paris, are facing a flu epidemic.
This comes at a time when Europe is already struggling to battle the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Twindemic outbreak will be challenging for doctors in distinguishing between flu and Covid-19 viruses.
A huge concern is the risk that the medical system will be overloaded trying to care for both Covid and flu patients.
With a moderate-sized flu epidemic and Covid-19 pandemic, there will be a stress on hospital facilities.
Experts say to avoid the spread, continue with social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands regularly.
In 2020, countries across the world, including Chile, Australia, South Africa, and Europe, experienced one of the mildest flu seasons.
The annual number of cases in Australia which is between 80,000 and 250,000 was approximately 20,000 in 2020.
WHO reported <0.2% of respiratory swab specimens tested globally between September 2020 to January 2021 were positive for influenza.
This contrasts significantly with the three previous seasons from September 2017-2020, demonstrating an average of 17% positive testing.
The most popular theory attributes the reduced incidence of influenza to the measures put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.
This includes social distancing, mandatory mask-wearing, along with border closing, quarantines, hand washing campaigns.
Easing of restrictions after Delta resulted in increased mixing within populations across the world.
Lax approaches to social distancing and mask-wearing likely increased rates of transmission.
Low influenza infections in 2020 resulted in reduced immunity for the subsequent year.
Increased rates of transmission are expected due to increased exposure to more virulent strains.