Viruses have always been unpredictable, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made inconsistency the norm. Even the flu has changed. Last year the number of people infected with flu went down, and this year, cases may spike.
With so much uncertainty, and so many viruses out there, what can we do to protect ourselves and others, especially as seasons change?
Although respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses, typically thrive in fall and winter, in today’s new normal, there really is no COVID season. Cold and flu seasons have changed, too.
Typically, when predicting how the flu and other viruses will affect the U.S., we look at Australia since winter just ended there. This year, there was a rise in flu infections for kids 5 to 9 years old, followed by kids under 4 and teenagers.
There could be many reasons for the increase in infections. Now that COVID protocols like mask mandates have lifted, people are more likely to spread colds, flu and other types of viruses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to vaccination, staying at home when feeling sick and regular handwashing remain one of the best ways to avoid illness and prevent spreading germs to others. So remind everyone – and yourself – to wash up frequently.
Allyson Kozak, Ph.D., MBA, NRCC, is a board-certified clinical chemist and specializes in clinical chemistry, toxicology and immunoassays, including SARS-CoV-2 antibody diagnostics, at Roche Diagnostics. She has also served as a laboratory medical director, toxicology expert witness and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
Jamie Phillips Deeter, M.S., Ph.D., obtained her doctorate in infectious diseases, specifically studying viral evolution related to coronaviruses. Previously she has been an ORISE fellow at the CDC and served as a director of research for a small biotech firm. She joined Roche’s medical and scientific affairs team in 2017. During the pandemic she helped launch three of Roche’s SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests and has served as a subject matter expert.
Disclaimer: This content is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician. Always seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified health provider regarding a medical condition.