The most serious cases of influenza may require hospitalization, which would burden health services still with numerous cases of covid-19, and in some cases the symptoms of the two diseases can be confused and cause alarm, for example in schools , warn experts.
“We especially appeal to people with pre-existing medical conditions to be vaccinated against influenza,” stressed today, quoted by EFE, WHO Director of Sanitary Emergencies, Mike Ryan, in a public question and answer session issued by the United Nations agency. United through their social networks.
WHO technical director for covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, added that “worrying trends” are being observed in the evolution of the pandemic in countries in the northern hemisphere, due to the increase in coronavirus cases even before the beginning of the the flu.
Although many of these increases are due to the fact that many countries are improving their diagnostic capacity, and not only are more serious cases detected, such as in the first wave of the pandemic, “there is also a worrying increase in hospitalizations and the occupation of health units. intensive care, ”said the American expert.
Van Kerkhove mentioned that this trend is being observed in countries like Spain or France, in eastern Europe and in some states of the USA, so he asked for greater care, even recognizing that the world is now “better prepared and not in the same situation as than at the beginning of the pandemic ”.
Ryan added that the main concern now is that the increase in cases of covid-19 and flu is occurring simultaneously and that it “makes it enormously difficult” for doctors and nurses to treat the most serious cases.
The official also added that there is still no evidence that the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes covid-19, increases virulence with low temperatures, as occurs with the flu.
The specialist, who said that cases of infection of the same person with influenza and covid-19 were detected, said that the goal now should be “to maximize the survival rate and to minimize the length of hospital stay” and for that, we must start by lowering the total number of contagions.
Van Kerkhove said the fatality rate for the new coronavirus has dropped to 0.6%, “a percentage that may seem low, but that increases dramatically among the elderly.”
Ryan added the information by explaining that “if a vaccine is not found and the disease hypothetically affects 60% to 70% of the world population, that would mean a chance of dying between 1% and 2%, well above that of winning the lottery”.
The WHO Director of Sanitary Emergencies acknowledged that many countries “have found a way to live with the new coronavirus with minimal impact on society”, but said that, even so, the pandemic remains “exhausting for everyone, affecting plans, holidays and studies ”.
On the possible return to mass confinements, Van Kerkhove expressed his hope that greater knowledge of the disease will allow more localized measures to be applied.
“National plans are needed, but with implementation as local as possible, in areas as small as possible,” he said.
Regarding the possibility of reinfection of covid-19, detected in only a few cases, the experts stressed that for now it is not a major concern, but they have not ruled out, for example, that if a vaccine is found, it will have to be inoculated every year. years, as with the flu.
IMA // JMR