It is known that during the pandemic, Covid made adjustments to the “flu schedule.” What will happen to the flu incidence this year?
Tells Director of the Research Institute of Influenza named after. Smorodintseva of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology of the St. Petersburg State Medical University of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor Dmitry Lioznov.
Lidia Yudina, aif.ru: Dmitry Anatolyevich, many are already on sick leave. Is flu season open?
Dmitry Lioznov: Various pathogens of respiratory infections – both viral and bacterial – are already actively circulating. Influenza viruses are also found among them. But the rise in flu incidence has not yet begun.
There are enough vaccines
– Should we expect anything new from the flu this year?
– With the advent of Covid, we observed changes in the seasonality of influenza and ARVI. But starting in 2021, the situation returns to normal. An increase in incidence is predicted at the usual time: in late autumn – early winter.
Since last year we had an epidemic with the dominance of the H1N1 strain, this year we can expect either a combined circulation of the H3N2 and H1N1 strains, or a predominance of the H3N2 strain. If we talk about group B viruses, then since 2020 only one influenza of this group has been circulating – the so-called Victorian line, and influenza B of the Yamagata line has not been detected (it is because of this variability that it is so important to get a flu shot every year. – Ed.).
As for the intensity of the epidemic, it depends not only on the virus, but also on our behavior. If a large number of people are vaccinated (at least 60% of the total population and 75% in risk groups), and those who become ill behave conscientiously (stay at home and thereby break the chain of transmission of the virus), then there is hope that the incidence will be moderate and will go away quickly on the decline
– This year everyone is vaccinated exclusively with domestic vaccines. Why?
– The country produces several vaccines in sufficient quantities. They have proven themselves well – there is simply no need for imported ones. As for comparative effectiveness, you need to understand that all vaccines are the same in strain content. We cannot say that ours are more effective than imported ones or vice versa. Everyone is protected equally well. The main thing is that people get vaccinated, especially in risk groups (people aged 60+, pregnant women, children and patients with chronic diseases), in whom the flu is most severe and often leads to complications.
– What contraindications are there for vaccination?
– An absolute contraindication to influenza vaccination is only an allergy to chicken protein (most influenza vaccines are produced on chicken embryos), and a temporary one is a two-week period after the illness.
Flu or Covid?
– How effective are masks and hand sanitizers?
– These remedies work for both influenza and covid. Hand washing and disinfectants – because the flu is transmitted not only by airborne droplets, but also by contact. And masks are the most effective way to prevent any respiratory infections.
– Flu and Covid will most likely circulate simultaneously. How can you independently distinguish one from the other?
“It’s difficult even for a clinician to do this.” Today, influenza, Covid, and many other respiratory infections are practically indistinguishable, because the manifestations of the disease depend not only on the “harmfulness” of the virus, but also on the human body. If you become ill, you must seek medical help. The doctor has the opportunity to perform a test that will determine the cause of the disease. This will help prescribe medications that will prevent the development of severe forms and complications.
– Many people treat colds and flu quite successfully with home remedies. Why are specific drugs needed?
– Any infectious disease has a causative agent – a virus or bacteria. When treating, the main thing is to influence the cause of the disease: for bacterial infections, prescribe an antibiotic, and for viral infections, an antiviral drug. Today there is a wide selection of agents that can act on almost any pathogen. Herbal medicines can be used as adjuncts, but they cannot replace the main therapy for such a dangerous disease as influenza.