As COVID-19 raged last year, the seasonal flu all but vanished, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During the 2019 flu season from Sept. 29 to Dec. 28, the CDC reported more than 65,000 cases of influenza nationwide. During the same period this flu season, the agency reported 1,016 cases.
Health experts said that high vaccination rates against the flu – combined with social distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing employed to stop the spread of the coronavirus – played a huge role in preventing influenza transmission.
The drop occurred despite a sixfold increase in testing at public health labs, most of which checked for influenza A and B along with the coronavirus.
“The public health labs test for more surveillance purposes rather than patient care reasons and are therefore a better measure of influenza burden each season than clinical labs,” CDC spokesperson Kate Grusich told USA TODAY.
Though many experts are relieved to see public health measures working against flu spread, they said the numbers speak volumes about the transmissibility of COVID-19.
“It says that it’s more contagious and that it’s less forgiving of any lapses of these types of prevention measures,” said Dr. David Hooper, chief of the infection control unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Hooper said one reason the coronavirus is more transmissible is because people can shed the coronavirus days before exhibiting any symptoms, if they develop symptoms at all. READ MORE HERE