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‘We’re in for a whopper’ of a flu season, expert says

Why the flu season will be difficult in 2021

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A veteran arrives at a drive-thru flu vaccine clinic.

A veteran arrives at a drive-thru flu vaccine clinic for veterans at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said Wednesday that “we’re in for a whopper” of a flu season with the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing.

  • “We haven’t seen a flu season last year — we’re in for a whopper because we haven’t put immunity into the population in at least one and maybe now two years. When the flu does come back, and it will come back, it’s going to come back very aggressively,” he told CNBC Wednesday.
  • The U.S. “hasn’t had much flu immunity in a number of years and so we need to be mindful of that, we could see a situation either this year or next year where you have a really bad flu season,” Gottlieb told CNBC.
  • He added, “And if there’s a mismatch between the flu vaccine and the circulating strain, it could be very bad. And then you’re going to have COVID on top of that, so businesses are going to have to do things differently.”

Dr. Megan Ranney, an associate dean of public health at Brown University, told CNN that experts are preparing for a busy winter season with flu cases set to rise and the COVID-19 pandemic still hitting the U.S.

  • “Let’s be clear on why flu cases were so low last year, it’s because we were all masked and we were all distancing,” Ranney told CNN. “Those things are not being done anymore in the vast majority of the country.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this year that there were about 1,675 cases of influenza from Sept. 28, 2020, to May 22, 2021, which is the typical timeline for the flu season for the entire United States, Those numbers were a record-low for flu cases in the U.S.

Experts said they’re worried about COVID-19 and the flu season hitting heavily, creating a twindemic across the U.S., according to USA Today.

  • “We were worried about the ‘twindemic’ last year and we face the same threat this year,” Dr. Daniel Solomon, a physician in the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told USA Today. “COVID-19 is likely to continue, and we face the threat of dual respiratory viruses that could put a strain on our health care system.”