Much has changed. The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world we knew upside-down in many ways. The world has seen suffering, death, isolation, lockdowns, overwhelmed failing healthcare systems, political controversies, vaccine roll-outs that go well and some that do not, and much more. The future seems more uncertain than many of us have ever known (many of today’s adults have not previously experienced war and other massive crises)…
One area that warrants careful consideration is the question of normal healthcare or, if you will, non-covid healthcare. There are growing concerns that people are avoiding doctors, clinics, hospitals etc. as they seek to stay at home and avoid coronavirus – as understandable as this is, nearly all experts are agreed that it is unwise in many cases and so there are real concerns that this “lack of normal healthcare” is and or will be something of a time-bomb with lots of preventable illness the likely result. One example of this may well be flu or seasonal flu.
Here are some good reasons to still take seasonal flu seriously, even in this, the time of the pandemic:
Flu is serious. Seasonal flu has an overall mortality of around 1 death per 1000 infections. (We do not yet know the mortality-rate for Covid-19 – the science and stats are surprisingly complex – but it is thought to be around 10 per 1000 infections.) Seasonal flu also causes a huge ammount of morbidity (ill health) and lost productivity. And we all know that the economy needs all the productivity it can get! Seasonal flu really must be taken seriously.
Flu can be prevented. We know that hand washing, avoiding sick people, limiting time indoors (stay outdoors, improve ventilation), can all make a difference in preventing seasonal flu. Flu vaccines are also very effective, offering in the region of 50-70% protection against serious seasonal flu illness. So there are simple, cheap, safe measures you can, and should take.
Flu can be treated. Cured, no. Treated, yes. Various supportive treatments including oxygen, intensive-care, modern sophisticated medications, can improve the outcomes for those with serious seasonal flu. Treatment helps.
Flu could make Covid worse. We all know that it can be bad news if you have pre-existing health problems when you contract Covid-19. Conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease are all known to worsen Covid-19 outcomes. In a similar way, getting Covid-19 soon after seasonal-flu, or vice-versa, could be quite bad news since your overall health, physical resilience, and immunity, will all be weakened.
Covid-19 is serious. Seasonal-flu is serious. Please do not make the serious mistake of ignoring one because of the other.