Although flu cases in Europe are still low, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) sees signs that a ‘heavy flu season’ is approaching.
The elderly in particular can have a hard time, think the European counterpart of the RIVM. Although the number of infections is still low, the most commonly encountered flu variant is A(H3N2), a variant that is not only difficult to curb by the flu shot, but also hits the elderly harder.
The fact that A(H3N2) has been detected so early in the season is the worst fear for the coming flu season, the ECDC writes on its website. “But of course we can’t say for sure what the coming flu season will really look like,” said Pasi Penttinen, who leads ECDC’s flu program.
He also sees a danger for healthcare in combination with the corona pandemic: “A sharp increase in the number of flu cases during the Covid-19 pandemic could have serious consequences for the elderly and people with a weakened immune system. That will put extra pressure on healthcare. It is therefore important that we take the necessary precautions and protect the vulnerable.”
During the previous flu season, the influenza virus barely showed itself. There were up to 99% fewer cases. It is assumed that corona measures such as lockdowns, keeping distance and hygiene not only help against corona but also against flu infections.
Every year, approximately 20% of the population is infected with a flu virus. About a quarter of them actually get sick. Serious complications mainly occur in the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions.