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Tridemic? A Winter With Covid-19 and Flu

In the PBS News Health section, Helen Branswell writes what to expect from Covid-19 this winder?

Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for the Seattle and King County public health department, who has been reportedly mired in the COVID response since the earliest days of the U.S. outbreak, told PBS “The bottom line is, I think, uncertainty”.

“We’re experiencing a new virus, a newly emerged pathogen, and we’re trying to fight it with new tools that we don’t have a lot of experience with. And we’re dealing with unpredictable human behavior … which is a very important factor as well, and environmental factors that may influence the severity of COVID outbreaks and how well it transmits.”

– Jeffrey Duchin (source: PBS News)

Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, told Jeremy Olson of Star Tribune that though last year Minnesota was spared from “Twindemic” (flu and Covid-19) due to masks wearing, but he wonders what could happen without those mask protection.

“I’m not going to talk about a twindemic. I’m going to talk about a tridemic or a quaddemic. We’ve already seen evidence of it. We already have cases of influenza in Minnesota. We’ve already seen evidence of an RSV epidemic. The pandemic, at least right now, isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to continue to find susceptibles who are either unvaccinated or whose immunity wanes with time.”

– Dr. Gregory Poland, vaccinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester (source: Star Tribune)

Jeremy Olson of Star Tribune writes citing pandemic models prepared by Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict a “modest increases or declines in COVID-19 levels in early October in Minnesota, which could follow states such as Missouri, which had severe surges earlier this summer that have since peaked”.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) predicted that “We still have a lot of human wood to burn here”.

“COVID-19 will remain a problem in the U.S. this winter, even if there is a decline from peak infection rates. Minnesota’s first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate is 74.6% among eligible people 12 and older, and 63.4% overall, leaving opportunities for the virus to spread.”

– Dr. Michael Osterholm, CIDRAP (source: Star Tribune)

It is concerning to think about even a ‘normal’ flu season layered on top of what we are currently seeing with COVID-19, let alone a severe season. Our health care system is stressed right now due to COVID-19.

– Kris Ehresmann, state infectious disease director (source: Star Tribune)

CNN Health’s Jen Christensen writes quoting health experts that this winter ‘could be complicated‘.

Dr. Claudia Hoyen, director of pediatric infection control at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, told CNN that based on the number of viruses she’s seen hitting people early this year, she thinks it doesn’t bode well for the flu season.

Once we all took our masks off, the viruses did what they do best and found lots of people to give runny noses to.

– Dr. Claudia Hoyen (source: CNN Health)

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN that “typically what kicks off the flu season is the start of the school year. With more kids going back to the classroom than last year, unless kids are wearing masks, and everyone else for that matter, there will likely be more cases”.

Children are the ‘distribution franchise‘ for the influenza virus. They’re on top of each other and they are not the most hygienic little lovelies, so they spread the flu virus amongst themselves.

– Dr. William Schaffner (source: CNN Health)

“When kids get infected, they shed the virus for a longer period of time than adults do, so they’re really the people who bring the virus into the family and spread it about to the neighbors and, well, everybody,” Dr. Schaffner told CNN.

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of September 29, 9 a.m.) 473,954,085 doses have been distributed and 391,992,662 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of September 27) a total of 6,427,895 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of September 29) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 708,220 (out of 12,463,002 tested) with 8,140 deaths.