New research by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health warns that the United States could experience a severe flu outbreak after public health measures such as face masks and social distancing are lifted .
These measures have protected people from COVID-19 and the flu (the incidence of flu decreased by 60 percent during the first ten weeks after the measures were implemented), but it is also making more Americans susceptible to the influenza as immunity to the virus decreases.
Based on the model’s projections, as public health measures relax, a large-scale flu outbreak is likely. In later seasons, outbreaks will also be elevated, gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Over the past decade, flu deaths in the United States ranged from 12,000 in 2011-12 to 61,000 in 2017-2018. Projections show that the side effects of pandemic public health measures could persist for several years .
Additionally, researchers anticipate that the global suppression of flu activity during the pandemic may make it difficult to predict future circulating strains to inform flu vaccine production.
As a result, the effectiveness of the vaccine could be reduced. Additionally, suppressing flu during the pandemic could lead to an increase in multiple strains of flu, including the A / H3 strain, which has a high mortality rate and has not circulated widely since the 2018-2019 season .