Flu was all but eliminated in South Africa this year. Coronavirus is to thank.
“It is a totally unprecedented event to not see flu,” said Cheryl Cohen, who leads NICD’s respiratory disease team. While she and other experts in South Africa said some people were certainly staying home and not reporting mild sicknesses, they all agreed that South Africa basically skipped its flu season — and that the coronavirus is to thank.
“The main explanation is that measures against coronavirus are having an impact on flu transmission,” Cohen said.
As Northern Hemisphere countries including the United States ramp up the largest effort to vaccinate hundreds of millions of people against the seasonal flu, Southern Hemisphere countries are providing evidence of how basic protective measures such as mask-wearing and school closures, now instituted to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, could suppress or even eliminate the flu, which kills millions of people every year.