Health care workers prepare for possible ‘twindemic’ this fall — a double whammy of COVID-19 and flu

By | August 29, 2020

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“It also gives us an opportunity to have really frank and honest conversations with substitute decision makers and loved ones,” says the ICU doctor and lead researcher from Lawson Health Research Institute. How aggressive would they want us to be?

If backed up with more research, the twin studies could lead to better treatments for a new disease that’s about to converge with a familiar foe. What happens when COVID and flu collide?

Dr. Douglas Fraser. Photo by Lawson Health Research Institute

Some have called the prospect of duelling epidemics a Dickensian disaster. Others are taking some comfort in the Southern Hemisphere’s freakishly mild flu season. “They’re testing really aggressively in Australia and they’re just not finding cases,” says Dr. David Buckeridge, a professor in McGill University’s School of Population and Global Health.

The Southern Hemisphere’s experience is, in some ways, “a good reflection that all of the good public health measures that people are continuing to practise, the hand washing, the physical distancing as much as possible, the use of non-medical masks and so on that help prevent or limit the transmission of COVID-19, would also work equally well for other respiratory infections, including influenza,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said this week.

Others aren’t convinced we’ll get off so easily, noting that peak flu season in the Southern Hemisphere happened when most schools were closed. In Canada, classrooms are just starting to reopen. “Influenza is predictably unpredictable,” said Dr. Mark Loeb, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University.

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