The pandemic meets many of the worst expectations that public health experts in the US and Europe have had for the fall and winter.
However, one thing that worries them does not seem to happen, however: a “twindemia” of Covid and seasonal flu.
Instead, the flu is AWOL – at least so far. In New York City, which publishes a handful of daily visits to the emergency room for flu-like illnesses and other ailments, the figures are less than a third of the recent norm for the first half of December.
This apparent absence of the flu is almost certainly not just a lucky break. It is also not the result of a cover-up in which authorities consider flu cases to be Covid-19 cases (apparently a popular theory in some Covid negativist circles). It is conceivable that emergency rooms in New York are less likely to count coronavirus cases as flu-like diseases than they were last March, when Covid tests were rare and health care workers were less familiar with Covid symptoms. People may also avoid emergency rooms if they can. But the positive results of flu tests on the US FluView Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show an even more dramatic decline.
That dark blue line, which is almost indistinguishable from zero for most of the year, is 2020. The total positive test for the week ending December 5 – the latest available data – was only 56. In the same week last year, there were 6,435. . The beginning of the flu season in the northern hemisphere is considered to be the 40th week of the year, which ended on October 3, making December 5 the end of the 49th week.
Yes, the 2011-2012 flu season started with an even lower number of positive tests. But this is misleading, given that the number of flu tests performed has increased dramatically since then (although the number of Covid-19 tests performed by far this year is far from over). The 511 positives in the first 10 weeks of the 2011-2012 flu season were from 40,150 tests, for a positivity rate of 1.3%. 602 positives this year are from 401,112 tests, for a positivity rate of 0.15%.