This One Thing Could Make the Second Wave of Coronavirus Even Deadlier
Tackling the next surge in COVID-19 cases may not be so easy, thanks to this annual occurrence.
As many celebrate the reopening of businesses in states across the U.S., the excitement is being deflated by the dangerous surge in COVID-19 cases that are coming with it. And while most medical experts still see this spike as part of the first wave of the outbreak, many are advising officials to brace for a surge that will hit in the fall. Unfortunately, experts also fear that this second wave of coronavirus will be even deadlier—all thanks to the anticipated annual outbreak of seasonal flu that will overlap with it.
The warning comes courtesy of prepared testimonies to Congress from top health officials, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, Anthony Fauci, MD. Experts plan to tell lawmakers on Tuesday that they fear that any spike in COVID-19 cases during flu season could be catastrophic, Bloomberg reports.
A portion of their prepared statement reads:
While it remains unclear how long the pandemic will last, COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time. It is also unclear what impact the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will have on health care and public health systems during the upcoming influenza season. If there is COVID-19 and flu activity at the same time, this could place a tremendous burden on the health care system related to bed occupancy, laboratory testing needs, personal protective equipment and health care worker safety.
The alarm of the potential deadly double hit is being raised because of the amount of time needed to develop and distribute an effective coronavirus vaccine. At best estimates, most medical experts believe a vaccine won't be available until early 2021.
The seasonal flu takes a hard toll on the country's health system every year. According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2010 through 2019, annual averages are around 447,000 hospitalizations and 37,000 deaths in the U.S. As hospital beds fill up with COVID-19 cases and become unavailable to influenza patients, experts fear that the death rate could rise.
The prepared testimony also reveals that the CDC is preparing for the increase in cases with a newly developed test that can check for both COVID-19 and the flu simultaneously, stating it "will save public health laboratories both time and resources, including testing materials that are in short supply."
They are also ramping up funding for flu vaccines around the country, aiming to increase access for higher-risk populations and those who can't afford a flu shot, according to Bloomberg. And for more on what could be next in the pandemic, check out Here's When the Second Wave of Coronavirus Is Coming, Doctors Warn.