February 25, 2021 – The AP reports that flu has virtually disappeared from the U.S., with reports coming in at far lower levels than anything seen in decades.
February is usually the peak of flu season, with doctors’ offices and hospitals packed with suffering patients.
But not this year.
Experts say that measures put in place to fend off the coronavirus — mask wearing, social distancing, and virtual schooling — were a big factor in preventing a “twindemic” of flu and COVID-19. A push to get more people vaccinated against flu probably helped, too, as did fewer people traveling, experts said.
Another possible explanation: The coronavirus has essentially muscled aside flu and other bugs that are more common in the fall and winter. Scientists don’t fully understand the mechanism behind that, but it would be consistent with patterns seen when certain flu strains predominate over others, said Dr. Arnold Monto, a flu expert at the University of Michigan.
Nationally, “this is the lowest flu season we’ve had on record,” according to a surveillance system that is about 25 years old, said Lynnette Brammer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The numbers are astonishing considering flu has long been the nation’s biggest infectious disease threat. In recent years, it has been blamed for 600,000 to 800,000 annual hospitalizations and 50,000 to 60,000 deaths.
The story of course has been different with coronavirus, which in only one year has killed more than 500,000 people in the United States.