A small relief: Influenza cases are at record lows this season

A silver lining in the grey cloud of the pandemic is that the dangerous potential intersection of Covid-19 surges and the flu season seems to have been largely avoided. Thanks to ramped up flu vaccine efforts and pandemic health precautions, the CDC has reported only 1,016 influenza cases this flu season.

This number is incredibly low compared to last year when the US recorded 65,000 cases of influenza between September 29 and December 28. The drop is even more impressive when you consider that testing for influenza at public health labs was ramped up this year and saw a sixfold increase. 

Physicians are crediting increased vaccinations along with mask-wearing, social distancing, and other safety precautions for the dramatic drop in cases. Unfortunately, the reduced flu cases also highlights how much more transmissible Covid-19 is than the common flu as the US continues to see surges despite these public health measures. One primary difference between the two is that Covid-19 can be transmissible days before a patient begins exhibiting symptoms if they exhibit symptoms at all. 

As health systems around the world face some of their most difficult days, it’s a small relief to see that, although the flu season is not over, it appears it will not compound the challenges medical workers and first responders are dealing with.

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