‘Flurona’ isn’t the next big thing to worry about – Poynter


Cover COVID-19 is a daily Poynter briefing of article ideas on the coronavirus and other hot topics for journalists, written by Senior Professor Al Tompkins. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every morning of the week.

The word now circulating on the internet is “flurona,” which is a combined infection of the seasonal flu and the coronavirus that is unique behind COVID-19. The Times of Israel reported the first confirmed case of “flurona” on Sunday and the internet and social media panic began.

But wait. This is nothing new. Dr Anthony Fauci and others have warned that we would likely see a confluence of the flu and the COVID-19 virus. It’s called co-infection, and The Atlantic reported a few months ago that “they happen all the time.”

In 2021, we still don’t know much about how or how often the influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 work in tandem in the same body. A very first study conducted in China in January 2020 found no cases of co-infection of these two pathogens among 99 COVID-19 patients, but a follow-up, conducted a month later in a COVID-19 hospital, concluded that about one in eight had both diseases at the same time. Regardless of the historical prevalence of co-infection, twindemia never occurred last winter. Perhaps due to mask wear and social distancing, the flu count in the United States was well below normal during the 2020-21 season.

PolitiFact also researched the context of this new sentence.

But now a new flu season is starting to spread. This flu map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still based on data almost two weeks old:

(CDC)

Here’s a story from Houston about a teenager who tested positive for both the flu and COVID-19. KHOU reports:

“We are seeing an increase in the number of influenza cases in the country in general and we should not forget that amid this wave of omicron”, Dr Hana El Sahly, professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine mentioned.

The CDC says more than 1,800 people are currently in US hospitals with the flu and that the number is growing. Montana recently had one death from pediatric influenza; the majority of seasonal influenza cases occur in children. In fact, in the last week of 2021, the number of flu-related medical consultations fell above the norm of recent years.

While these co-infections are not uncommon, they complicate the treatment and recovery of COVID-19 patients. Atlantic said:

According to a spring analysis of more than 100 studies, people who tested positive for both SARS-CoV-2 and a second pathogen were three times more likely to die than those who only had COVID-19.

You can get the COVID-19 and flu shots at the same time. But remember, these are different vaccines. One does not protect against the other virus. The CDC recommends vaccination for anyone over 6 months of age. With some exceptions.

In September, President Joe Biden gave Walmart and others large props to offer in-home COVID-19 testing at cost. He said in a nationally broadcast speech:

As that production increases, my administration has been working with top retailers, like Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger’s, and tonight we’re announcing that, at the latest next week, each of these outlets will start selling quick tests at residence. kits at cost for the next three months. This is an immediate price reduction for home test kits up to 35% off.

As he said, the deal was for three months. Now the time is up – and so is the price. This week, Walmart raised prices for tests from $ 14 to $ 19.88. Kroger and Walgreens charge $ 23.99.

The latest CDC research involving 40,000 women found there was no link between taking the COVID-19 vaccine and premature births. The study also found no link between the vaccines and babies born smaller or less developed than expected. NPR summarizes these results.

A registered nurse goes online to purchase KN95 face masks in Whittier, Calif. On Tuesday, April 7, 2020 (AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes)

It’s amazing to me that we are still talking about how to buy and wear masks, but we are. It’s amazing to me that the CDC and others don’t clearly say “wear an N95 or KN95 mask”, not just “wear a mask”, but they are.

N95 masks approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health are so named because they can filter 95% of particles in the air. They don’t make a 100% guarantee that you won’t get infected more than a vaccine, but they are another line of defense against the virus.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal published a graph showing the performance of different types of masks. Keep in mind that the data this graph is based on is pre-omicron, so you can expect all of those times to be shorter now. We don’t know how much shorter, but shorter.

(The Wall Street Journal)

How do we know that the masks reduce the transmission of the virus? This conclusion is not based on a single study. This conclusion is based on meta-studies or studies of studies.

Here’s a meta-study that combined 72 studies on everything from handwashing to social distancing to school closings. He found that wearing the mask helps reduce the transmission of the virus behind COVID-19.

  • Among the studies in this mega study, wearing a mask reduced the transmission of COVID-19 by 53%. (Dr. Katelyn Jetelina directs you to other important mask studies.) One limitation of this finding is exactly what you see in the Wall Street Journal graph above. The degree of prevention is directly related to the quality of the masks used in the study.
  • Physical remoteness reduced virus transmission by about 12% (of course, isolation was more effective, with a reduction of 74%.)
  • School closures were found to reduce transmission by 62% (but came with a big disadvantage for learning). Interestingly, Japan saw no reduction in COVID-19 after schools were closed.
  • Business closures reduced the risk by about 12%.
  • Travel restrictions and border closures reduced transmissions by 11%.

Check locally to see if what’s happening in Los Angeles is happening near you. There, ambulance wait times are increasing as more workers fall ill and 911 calls pour in from people in need of ambulances.

I pay attention to this Los Angeles Times story that follows a big leap in COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles hospitals.

About two-thirds of patients who test positive at hospitals run by the LA County Department of Health Services have been admitted for something other than the coronavirus, according to Director of Health Services Dr Christina Ghaly.

The question you need to keep asking yourself is whether this change in the way COVID-19 cases end up in hospital-reported data is a reason why today’s COVID hospitalization count is? may not be an apple-to-apple comparison to the previous era of the pandemic, when people were hospitalized just because they had COVID-19.

A week ago I told my local gym that I wouldn’t be there for about a month because it doesn’t require masks, hardly anyone in my class wore one, and the small crowded space does. has no HEPA filters on its AC.

This new UK research reveals that if you’re outdoors or in a well-ventilated space in a small group, talking, singing, and even exercising strenuously for a short time is a fairly low threat if you’re wearing a mask. And even without a mask, the risk is quite low. But as you increase the activity, the density of people in a space and exposure time, the risk increases. Of course, the level of danger also depends on the number of infected people nearby and how contagious those people are when you encounter them. So, in my eyes, this graph is more of a guideline than an empirical answer.

A graphic from a study titled Practical Indicators of the Risk of Airborne Transmission in Shared Indoor Environments and Their Application to COVID-19 Outbreaks (Environmental Science and Technology)

And a special thanks to Dr Katelyn Jetelina, who found these dandy flowcharts to help you figure out what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone infected. They were produced by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Infection:

(Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

(Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

A new study by researchers at Boston University has found that the prospect of winning a lot of money in some sort of lottery does not significantly increase COVID-19 vaccination rates. The researchers found this result based on a study of an experiment in Ohio to try to convince people to get vaccinated. But even when the study spread to 15 other states that were attempting the lottery incentive, researchers found the same results: no improvement in vaccination rates. States that offered incentives turned out to have roughly the same immunization rates as those that did not.

We will be back on Monday with a new edition of Covering COVID-19. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here to have it delivered straight to your inbox.


Comments are closed.