Experts have said that fewer people are being hit by the flu than at any time in the past 130 years worldwide. The experts believe that the bug seems to have been ‘almost wiped out’ after being plunged by 95%.
John McCauley, director, World Health Organisation’s collaborating centre for reference and research on influenza and one of the world’s leading flu experts, said ‘The last time we had evidence of such low rates was when we were still just counting influenza deaths, and that was in 1888, before the 1889-90 flu pandemic.’
Experts believe the coronavirus pandemic has played a big part in the dramatic fall in numbers, with increased hygiene and immunity leaving flu germs with nowhere to go.
According to Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs,’It makes sense when you consider the lockdown restrictions, social distancing measures, and increased focus on maintaining good hygiene practices we are seeing at the moment, which will work to stop the spread of contagious illnesses such as colds and flu, as well as Covid-19.’
Another factor which could have contributed to the low flu numbers is the restriction on international travel which experts say has ‘disrupted the global circulation of influenza’.
However, WHO warns that the Covid-19 pandemic may also have impacted ‘healthcare-seeking behaviours’ as well as testing practices and says the data should be treated with caution. It was feared by many to be the perfect winter storm, a nightmare situation that would push our health service over the edge: the ‘twin-demic’ of flu, which kills about 10,000 Britons every year, and a second deadly wave of the coronavirus.
It prompted the government to roll out the biggest drive for flu vaccinations in history.
According to the World Health Organisation’s latest data, influenza activity remained at lower levels than expected for this time of the year across the globe.
However, WHO warns that the Covid-19 pandemic may also have impacted ‘healthcare-seeking behaviours’ as well as testing practices and says the data should be treated with caution.