Flu season has hit Australia very hard. At a time when many people were hoping to move on from COVID-19, now it seems like there is a massive increase in flu infections which is higher than pre-pandemic rates. So, what does this mean for Australia? Although COVID-19 is resurging in the country, many people have stopped pandemic-era precautions, which has led to a high increase in flu infections. This is what many in the field of epidemiology named “Twindemic”; the merging of the COVID-19 pandemic with the yearly flu season. In previous years the flu season in Australia was an indicator of what to expect in the United States. Now the question is; what could the United States see for flu season 2022?
Read blog: Let’s talk about flurona
COVID-19 infections in the United States are high in the present. In August of 2022, the United States was averaging over 90,000 cases per week. Back in August of 2020 the average was around 40,000. *
Now what can happen in a country (the United States) where COVID-19 restrictions are almost nonexistent or enforced, and people are more likely to be gathering indoors because of the winter weather approaching?
How does the flu spread?
The United States Center for Disease Control states that the flu can spread to other people up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is something that increase as people gather indoors for the colder months of the year.**
As COVID-19 and the flu share symptoms, it is important for laboratories to equip themselves with accurate testing technology that allows them to look, find, and differentiate more than one virus in the same sample. Sending someone home just because of a negative for COVID-19 while still showing infection symptoms is not an option. So if laboratories are already using PCR technology, a leading method of detection, to test for COVID-19, why not use the same workflow to test for COVID-19 and the flu?
The case for multiplex testing
Infographic: Multiplex testing during flu season
Multiplex PCR testing allows laboratories to test a patient sample for multiple infections. During flu season, and especially after looking at the case of Australia, it is important for labs to prepare with a test that is easy to adopt, scalable, and is possible, validated. Prepare for flu season with multiplex PCR testing solutions.
*COVID-19 Data Tracker. (n.d.). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#trends_dailycases_7daycasesper100k_00
**How Flu Spreads. (n.d.). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.html