As it seems, there has been one positive outcome following the never-ending Coronavirus pandemic around the globe: the UK, and most likely a host of other countries, have almost entirely eradicated the flu.
According to a new report from the Sunday Times, the number of people being struck down by the flu has dropped by 95 percent, with the number of flu-like illnesses reported to GPs in January (a period that is usually the peak of the flu season in Europe) just 1.1 per 100,000 people.
Compare that to a five-year average rate of 27 per 100,000 people, and the future is looking bright.
Simon de Lusignan, professor of primary care at the University of Oxford and director of the Royal College of GPs research and surveillance centre, said it looks like influenza has now been “almost completely wiped out.
“I cannot think of a year this has happened.”
John McCauley, director of the World Health Organisation’s collaborating centre for reference and research on influenza, added: “The last time we had evidence of such low rates was when we were still just counting influenza deaths, and that was in 1888, before the 1889-90 flu pandemic.”
And believe it or not, it seems that the coronavirus pandemic has played an unlikely part in the dramatic fall in numbers, largely because of how hygienic the larger population has become. Shock. It also may have something to do with the government urging as many people as they could last summer to get the flu jab (in December the free flu vaccine programme was extended to people over the age of 50).
Scientists hope that the disruption of the cold, flu and virus seasons over the past year could help reveal new information about their behaviour and transmission, such as how they respond to health measures, how they interact and more. Then hopefully we will be able to report on something similar Down Under,
Here’s to hoping.