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  • Dr Billie

Strange but True - COVID Vv FLU

Have you noticed that we haven’t seen one of our old enemies this year, so far anyway.

And we are not the only ones who have noticed.

What am I talking about? – the FLU. It isn’t just because everyone is being diligent and getting vaccinated – because we still have a fridge full of flu vaccine – but there doesn’t seem to be any about.

There are different viruses which cause the common cold and the flu even though colloquial Aussie English seems to confuse the two. Laboratories monitor the incidence of positive swabs taken from flu cases, respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus, the latter two cause the common cold, and now of course COVID. There is still RSV and rhinovirus circulating but virtually NO flu virus. This is odd. Some of this can be explained by social distancing, lock downs, mask wearing, hand sanitiser use and lack of overseas travellers bringing unwanted guests home with them. But some of this cannot.

I don’t have reason but could COVID have something to do with this? Does flu virus not like it and when competing for a human host COVID wins out and flu doesn’t get a look in???? I’ve really no idea but it’s an interesting thought. We know that a viral infection induces production of interferon. This is part of our response to the infection by aiding in the process that kills the viral invader. Could COVID induce higher levels of interferon which then aids us in killing the next infective agent such as FLU virus? Do COVID viruses suppress FLU viral particle division not allowing it to take a hold in the human host????

We are lucky because having a peak of COVID cases coinciding with a bad FLU season would have been devastating for us all. It would overwhelm our hospitals cause more deaths not just because more of us would be sick, but having two infections either simultaneously or one close on the heels of another would have been terrible.

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