Influenza cases in the United States have dropped to levels never before seen due to the implementation of COVID-19 pandemic constraints. This has essentially terminated the 2020-2021 flu season.
One significant influenza strain may have gone extinct because there were no humans to infect it, according to some specialists, since the disease was so hardly disseminated.
The Covid Pandemic May Have Resulted In The Extinction Of A Flu Strain
One of the four influenza strains commonly included in yearly flu vaccines is Influenza B/Yamagata. However, that virus seems to have dropped totally off the map in the middle of COVID lockdowns, according to a new Australian research team study published in the journal Nature Reviews.
According to the researchers, no B/Yamagata strains have been found or genetically sequenced in flu case surveillance since March 2020, when COVID lockdowns essentially ended the 2019-2020 flu season.
Only 31 suspected B/Yamagata flu cases were reported to public health officials during the most recent flu season. Still, the virus was never isolated or sequenced to determine whether B/Yamagata was really to blame for the outbreak.
According to the researchers, the B/Yamagata subtype of the flu has a reputation for being less infectious than the other major flu subtypes. This strain hasn’t needed an update from vaccine manufacturers since 2015 since it doesn’t evolve as swiftly as some of the other strains.
Combined with the COVID-19 pandemic’s suppression conditions, these traits “may have allowed severe suppression of global B/Yamagata circulation and the probable extinction of this lineage,” according to the study’s authors.
The research team was led by University of Melbourne Professor MariosKoutsakos, who served as the study’s lead investigator. Infectious disease experts in the United States believe that if an entire strain of influenza has been wiped off, it will provide new treatment options for the annual flu in the future.
According to the researchers, determining whether B/Yamagata has succumbed to time’s ravages would require more than one flu season.
He saw that the popularity of B/Yamagata would spike one year, only to plummet the next year almost to nothing. Public health officials are worried that this flu season will be incredibly challenging after a time of relaxation in COVID guidelines and the return of pupils to the school.
He thought it’s possible B/Yamagata may make a comeback. The medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, Dr. William Schaffner, stated that if B/Yamagata is gone for long, we may shuffle the strains included in the yearly flu vaccination get more bang for our money if it is actually gone. I wonder whether it’s true that B/Yamagata has vanished forever.
A/H3N2 (Hong Kong), A/H1N1 (Swine), and B/Victoria/Yamagata (influenza B) are the four strains included in the current influenza vaccination. The most frequent strain of influenza is A/H3N2 (Hong Kong). Influenza A strains are more infectious and may create deadly epidemics, whereas influenza B strains spread more slowly, particularly among school-age children and teens. Influenza A strains are more common and can cause devastating epidemics.
In order to determine which genetic variant of each of the four strains is the most infectious, specialists in the United States play a guessing game every year, according to Kennedy. Vaccination against the flu gives more protection when scientists get it right than the regular vaccine.