Where did the winter viruses go?

The barrier gestures deployed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic are making it possible to limit the spread of other viruses. But this is not entirely sufficient to explain the low prevalence of influenza in particular, the virologist believes.

In GP offices, except in cases of COVID, Calm is dead © AFP / Veronique Popinet / Hans Lucas

Influenza has not remained in France for 4 months. Even if some cases of gastroenteritis appear to recur for one to two weeks, their number remains very marginal compared to previous years. But what happens? The belief that Covid-19 crushes everything else. Unless the barrier signals show all their effectiveness here.

Apart from Coronavirus, dead calm in medical offices

The same was observed last summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In France, general practitioners confirm it: regardless of Covid cases, their daily life is to care for elderly patients and their chronic diseases. The complete quiet of the rest. Some companies even say they have lost up to 30% of their usual business.

So, of course, we go out and travel less. If there is less gastroenteritis, that is undoubtedly thanks to hand washing, which is more systematic, according to estimates by Dr. Jean-Claude Managuera, who considers wearing a mask, social distancing, and using a water-alcoholic gel as powerful brakes on the virus cycle.

The virologist also mentions the 2009 influenza pandemic. “When the H1N1 epidemic arrived, we noticed a decrease in the spread of other respiratory viruses, and even gastroenteritis viruses because we recommended the use of aqueous alcohol gel. There was an effect on other viruses.”.

A small exception, however, rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, continues to spread.

“They are very small viruses, resistant in the external environment, which may explain why it is difficult to prevent their transmission.”

The flu mystery

For a specialist, the greater number of people vaccinated against influenza this year cannot by itself explain the absence of this disease for 4 months. If there are years of influenza infection, like last winter, there are also years without it, as in the winter of 2001. And that is without being able to explain it well. So we will try to understand later what remains a mystery so far.

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