Southern Hemisphere Skipped Flu Season This Year, Likely Because of Social Distancing

One of the unexcepted benefits to the measures taken to fight COVID-19 is that those same measures have been effective in significantly reducing the spread of influenza. The southern hemisphere is entering spring as the northern hemisphere enters fall, and the data from the flu season in the southern half of the world has been very positive. Wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from others has shown to be effective in limiting the spread of both diseases. This is a positive sign as northern nations have been concerned about treating both COVID-19 and the flu. In the US alone, an estimated 56 million were potentially affected over the last flu season. 

The three nations that were studied (Australia, Chile, and South Africa) had markedly fewer cases in 2020, with only 51 of 83,307 people having positive test results for the flu. While masks and social distancing almost certainly contributed, the beginning of the flu season in the southern hemisphere was between April and June, when most of the southern nations went into lockdown. It is likely that northern nations will see reduced cases of the flu, but the disease is more likely to have more cases since most countries are no longer requiring people to stay home.

If you are interested in seeing the data and other hopeful data about what this flu season may be like in the northern hemispheres, read https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/01/health/flu-season-southern-hemisphere-covid-trnd/index.html. Please note that this is promising, but does not mean the flu isn’t as much of a threat if similar precautions are not taken to reduce the spread.


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