The reason for the expected strong flare-up of such infectious diseases: The effectiveness of the corona hygiene measures (masks, distance, hand hygiene), which last autumn and winter not only inhibited the spread of SARS-CoV-2, but also of flu and other respiratory diseases.
In the past 2020/2021 winter season, only one sample from Austria tested positive for influenza in the Austrian influenza monitoring system, plus another sample from a returnee.
As positive as this news is on the one hand, “one must also bear in mind that this lack of virus activity also means that there has been no natural boost in the population through virus contact,” wrote the virologist Monika Redlberger-Fritz from the MedUni Vienna recently in the Virusepidemiologischen Information. “It is therefore possible that if the hygiene measures are no longer applied, a renewed viral activity will be accompanied by a strong epidemic wave”.
This could be the case to a greater extent with RSV in particular. Because the first infection usually takes place within the first year of life. Redlberger-Fritz: “Due to the lack of RSV activity, however, all children born after March 2020 have no immunity to this virus. Together with the newborns in this year’s birth cohort, this results in a large number of RSV-naive, vulnerable children.”
Therefore, a lot of primary RSV infections could occur in autumn and winter this year – with a corresponding burden on children’s wards. At the same time, experience from previous years has shown that very weak flu waves are usually followed by strong ones.
“We have to expect that in the fall, in addition to Covid-19, other respiratory diseases will also burden the hospitals,” says health economist and physician Thomas Czypionka from the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS. “After all, people couldn’t have antibodies against them for a year Pathogens form. “Even if the influenza viruses change from year to year, there is usually a certain protective cross-reaction:” But that is of course also reduced this year. “
Conclusion: “We will continue to have to look closely at the Covid-19 infection figures and not wait until Covid hospital admissions rise again. We cannot only react when the hospitals are full with Covid-19 patients. An exponential one If the number of infections increases, it will be too late by then, because this year, in addition to Covid-19, we may need more capacity for patients with other infectious diseases. “
And, what will also be important: the influenza vaccination. It will also be available for free for children from 6 months to 14 years of age as part of the child vaccination program in the coming season.