Monday, August 8

We have finished with two variants of the flu in 18 months due to the use of masks and the rest of social distance measures

Suddenly the flu disappeared. The coronavirus pandemic (or rather, our response to the pandemic) reduced by 99% the cases of a disease that has been with us insistently throughout history and has caused chilling epidemics. It was sensational news: an epidemiological stroke of luck. But what we didn’t imagine was the long-term impact it was going to have on flu lineages.

And is that we barely needed 18 months of social distancing and masks for what two complete lineages of the flu virus disappear of the large virus sequencing databases. Obviously, we do not know if they have disappeared completely or are “hidden” waiting for an opportunity to return; but that does not spare an iota of spectacularity to what has been achieved.

LESS than 100 DAYS for GROUP IMMUNITY: Towards a FUTURE without PANDEMIC

Where is the flu?

Arrive thanks to Ángel Jiménez a a very interesting job of a team of researchers from the University of Melbourne published in which they analyzed the international registries where the sequences of the different influenza viruses around the world are collected. And what they discovered was really interesting.

To begin with, despite the fact that the number of analyzes is very similar to that of other years, the Yamagata lineage (influenza B) has not been isolated since April 2020. It is true that, according to international medical records there have been 31 cases in 2021; But since the virus has not been successfully isolated or sequenced, we really can’t be sure. And, even if it were true, it would already be something surprising because in 2018 it was a predominant lineage.

Something similar (although more recent) has happened with the H1N1 variant of influenza A. From May 2021 to August of that same year, no one sequenced this variant all over the world. And, in this case, we are also talking about a variant that became tremendously popular in the past. This reduction has affected all the variants, but with these two it has been especially primed.

Now it remains to be seen if the boreal winter follows the southern one like other years and this trend continues. But what is clear is that this enormous natural experiment that has caused the coronavirus pandemic is going to give us a new perspective on how human diseases move, grow and die. And most importantly: why they do it. There are many lessons for the future there.

Image | CDC