There are two hypotheses regarding what will happen this Fall: 1) flu season will be, essentially, non-existent because people are wearing masks and social distancing (due to COVID19); or 2) the combination of flu and COVID19 epidemics will add strains to the healthcare system that we’ve never seen before.
The US is lucky though because flu seasons hits the Southern Hemisphere before hitting us. Their flu seasons is from June to September (peaking in August). Every year, we use this to our advantage to predict our flu season.
So, now that their flu season is over, what did it look like in the Southern Hemisphere (and specifically Australia, Chile, and South Africa)?
- VERY little flu activity. In 2020, Australia, Chile and South Africa had 0.06% positive flu tests (51 out of 83,307). For a comparison, from 2017-2019, they had 13.7% positive flu tests (24,512 out of 178,690).
We are seeing similar trends during the non-flu season in the U.S.…
- Typically, during the non-season we have about 1-2% of positive flu tests. This year we have 0.2% positive flu tests.
So, it LOOKS like hypothesis #1 is what we can expect this Fall. Thanks to the community mitigation measures to reduce COVID19, we will also reduce flu transmission. We have to keep it up though (and go get your flu shots!) or hypothesis #2 will take over.
Data Source: Olsen SJ, Azziz-Baumgartner E, Budd AP, et al. Decreased Influenza Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, Australia, Chile, and South Africa, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1305–1309. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6937a6external icon