Gesundheit or good night: Saying goodbye to respiratory viruses?
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries adopted policies to reduce community spread and limit global travel. While these measures were introduced with COVID in mind, they have had a major impact on other diseases.
Respiratory viruses, such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and adenovirus, are a significant healthcare burden. A Canadian study looking at incidence of these viruses indicate a dramatically lower rate of respiratory virus infection in 2020 compared to 2019, reaching historically low interseasonal levels. Recent reports indicate that as of late July, a mere 31 cases of influenza B/Yamagata have been reported globally in 2021.
The decline and elimination of certain respiratory viruses could have major ramifications for our approach to healthcare following the pandemic. Reducing the number of targeted strains in flu vaccines could boost production an estimated 200 million doses, greatly increasing the global distribution. Sustained use of PPE and sanitary practices after the pandemic can significantly limit community transmission. By continuing efforts to limit disease spread and improve vaccine comprehension, it might one day be possible to say goodbye to the flu for good!