Late last summer, many experts expressed concern that the illness and chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic might soon worsen as we entered flu season. Dubbed the “twindemic,” pessimists foresaw a nightmarish overlap of the two viral diseases that could overwhelm the country and the world.
In another corner were the optimists, usually a very small group in public health circles. They suggested that — perhaps — a public motivated to avoid coronavirus by masking, distancing, handwashing and all the rest would actually achieve better control of influenza, a two-for-one sort of bargain.
Thus far, the optimists have won — at least partly. We are seeing historically low rates of flu in the US and the rest of the world right now despite being knee-deep into flu season. Or, in the crisp administrative language of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Seasonal influenza activity in the United States remains lower than usual for this time of year.” (For a quick visual, check the small red triangles in the Figure on Page 5 of the weekly NYC Influenza Report. But the other half of the putative two-for-one bargain has not come through. While our mask and distancing measures largely seem to have stopped influenza (and colds and other winter-time sniffles) in their tracks, the same measures have slowed transmission but failed to stop the spread of Covid-19. Read More..