British health officials have warned the citizens of a possible outbreak of flu and Covid-19 during the looming winter. Twindemic proves to be a major concern for Britain ever since the beginning of coronavirus in 2020.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced to the public to take the vaccines for Covid and flu as soon as possible. If not, the pressure will be two-fold for the already tensed National Health Service (NHS).
“There are strong indications we could be facing the threat of widely circulating flu, lower levels of natural immunity due to less exposure over the last three winters and an increase in COVID-19 circulating,” said Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA.
The circulation of flu has always been a headache to the officials along with that of Covid. But due to the restrictions placed in the early 2020’s the flu levels have stayed low.
Caution has been administered every year before winter after the start of coronavirus. Nonetheless the government had decided to withdraw the restrictions early this year, leading to the reemergence of the flu while immunity is low.
Social contact rates are returning back to how it was before the pandemic. Studies have shown that our immunity levels are at the bottom line as never seen before.
Thus, there are high chances that our body is susceptible to all sorts of diseases roaming in the environment. The vaccines which we took for influenza is now fruitless and has to retake it again to attain immunity.
Escalation in Covid cases were seen over the summer as a major number of hospitalizations were registered. In this year, 33 million people are suitable for free flu vaccine while 26 million can get boosters for Covid-19.
Britain’s hospitals are already under the pressure of under staffing and is struggling to catch up with the deferred procedures during the pandemic.
With the strain falling on NHS, the Labour Party leader Keir Starmer stated his worries over the lives that would be at risk this winter. Not just Britain, but the whole world has marked an increase in the flu rates.
“With the 2022 autumn and winter seasons approaching and the northern hemisphere entering its flu season, the risk of seeing a rapid spread COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, including flu, simultaneously is high,” Shen Hongbing, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said during the 2022 World Influenza Conference held online.
The most affected group will be the elderly and those with chronic diseases as all the medical systems will be overstretched.
“As a result, it is of great significance to research how to improve surveillance, mass vaccination and disease control work during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he further stated.
Effects of Covid-19 and flu
It does not help that the people are weary of getting vaccinated right after the pandemic and fewer people are coming forward for the shots. Young children are recommended to get flu shots while the elderly can get both vaccines.
The flu that hit Australia in the past year called, H3N2, have the possibility to spread further across the Northern Hemisphere
“The H3N2 flu strain can cause particularly severe illness,” said Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at the U.K. Health Security Agency.
In UK, around the winter times, 11,000 people die from flu without any pandemic restrictions. The main concerns of UKHSA lies on pregnant women and toddlers whose contact with the virus is almost nonexistent.
In the past year, kids aged around 2-3 got the flu shots which is only half of the total eligible ones. On top of it, the percentage of pregnant women who got it was lower than 38. The rates were much higher among those who are aged 65 and above which was more than 82 per cent.
“Flu and COVID-19 are unpredictable but there are strong indications we could be facing the threat of widely circulating flu, lower levels of natural immunity due to less exposure over the last three winters and an increase in COVID-19 circulating with lots of variants that can evade the immune response,” said Hopkins.
The variants of Covid-19 are constantly evolving which prompts the health experts to urge people to get the booster doses as well as flu jabs as soon as possible.