The EU warns of the "seriousness" for the elderly of the "severe" influenza virus this year in the middle of the pandemic

Warning before the wave of influenza in Europe in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has warned this Tuesday of the first cases of influenza detected in Europe, "which disproportionately affects the elderly and is associated with a lower effectiveness of the vaccine."

Although the total number of flu detections in most EU countries remains low, "indications show that circulation is above the seasonal threshold in Croatia, which is unusually early," says the EU body. And he clarifies: "The main subtype among the cases registered during the last month is A (H3N2), which disproportionately affects the elderly and is associated with a lower effectiveness of the vaccine. This is a sign that the next flu season could be severe for older people, and that patterns can vary between countries in terms of time. "

"Early detections of subtype A (H3N2) are an indication that the next flu season could be severe, although we cannot know for sure what it will eventually be like," says Pasi Penttinen, director of the ECDC flu program: "An increase Pronounced flu infections during the COVID-19 pandemic could have dire consequences for the elderly and those with weak immune systems, and could place an additional burden on health systems already affected by COVID-19. Therefore, it is important that we take the necessary precautions and protect those who are most at risk. "

During the 2020-2021 season there was a notable decrease (> 99%) in the number of influenza infections detected in the EU, indicating that non-pharmacological interventions such as avoiding unnecessary meetings and maintaining hygiene measures are effective not only to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but also the flu.

"From our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have more evidence that non-drug interventions, such as physical distancing and hygiene measures, can effectively slow the spread of flu. It is especially important to consider this in settings such as residences. and health care, "says Penttinen:" Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 and influenza also provides good protection against serious illnesses. Those who work in a health care setting or in nursing homes should ensure that be vaccinated before the winter months. "

According to the ECDC, approximately 20% of the population becomes infected with the flu each year, and one in four infected people will develop symptoms. The elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung and airway problems, diabetes, or immune system problems are at higher risk for serious complications.

The EU body explains that antiviral drugs, which are taken as quickly as possible after the onset of symptoms, are safe and effective measures for treating influenza and are generally recommended for severe or rapidly progressing cases. Its prophylactic properties are also useful as a preventive measure during events such as outbreaks in nursing homes.


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