Flu Infections Remain Unusually Low As COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket In US

Friday, January 8th 2021, 12:08 pm
By: CBS News

While cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing around the country, activity is extremely low for the virus we usually see in the winter months: the flu.

Hospitals have been bracing for a possible "twindemic" this winter, a simultaneous outbreak of flu while COVID-19 also surges, but data shows influenza activity remains unusually low right now.

Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University Medical Center said there are a few possible explanations.

"Flu is imported into the United States from other parts of the world, and travel, because of COVID, has been weighed down. Then, of course, most of us are out there wearing masks, social distancing," Schaffner said.

Who spreads the flu may play a role. Schaffner said while COVID in many cases is spread by adults, kids are the group that tend to spread flu in our communities.

"Now, a lot of virtual schooling goes on. And when you do go to school, children are wearing masks, social distancing. So, I think the main reason is that children are not sharing this virus amongst themselves," he said.

Also, a record number of flu vaccines were produced for this season. The CDC reports more than half of adults were vaccinated by the end of December, higher than the same time in prior seasons.

About 75 million doses of the flu vaccine have been administered so far this season to adults.

"After all of these holiday get-togethers. I'm worried that this 'twindemic' could still occur in January, late January, into February. There's still plenty of time," Schaffner said.

Which is why social distancing, mask wearing, handwashing and staying home when sick are more important than ever.