When COVID-19 meets flu season
As the COVID-19 pandemic looks set to collide with flu seasons across the globe, medical experts and public health officials are scrambling to mitigate the worst impacts of simultaneous outbreaks.
To assist in these efforts, pulmonologist Dr Benjamin Singer of Northwestern Medicine, Chicago has outlined the top factors that will lessen the severity of combined flu and COVID-19 in the journal Science Advances.
He highlights transmission is perhaps the top factor for both diseases, and as such it may be necessary to reinforce social distancing measures to flatten both curves.
Vaccination for flu will also be critical for reducing flu infections, particularly in older adults and other physically vulnerable people.
Availability of accurate diagnostics able to detect co-infection of COVID-19 and other pathogens is another vital factor, as co-infection with influenza and COVID-19 is common.
Finally, disparities in the provision of healthcare must be minimised. Singer refers to vulnerable American ethnic groups that have been more susceptible to viral transmission, but this can be generalised to any country with marginalised populations.