EDMONTON – Communities across Canada are seeing a flu season with no flu thanks to the pandemic.
An infectious disease expert says COVID-19 measures put in place by health authorities—think social distancing, masks and a lack of international travel–have basically stopped influenza in its tracks.
“There was a silver lining if you could call it that,” said Stephanie Smith from the University of Alberta.
“We aren’t seeing influenza. I think there was a lot of concern that we going to have this double whammy of COVID and the flu. Luckily we haven’t seen that.”
FULL INTERVIEW: Stephanie Smith, infectious disease expert, says Canada has been virtually flu-free
She says another reason why influenza cases are down is because a lot more people than usual got the flu shot this season.
“So, when it’s introduced a large percent are immune. But with COVID, that was introduced into a new population with no immunity.”
The lack of flu cases this year, contrasted with COVID-19, shows just how much more contagious the new virus is. And that’s before new variants were discovered.
“A person could have no symptoms and transmit COVID,” said Smith.
In Alberta, coronavirus has now killed more people than the last 10 flu seasons combined.
But just because we haven’t seen any lab-confirmed cases of the flu so far this season, it doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. Chances are we’ll see more flu cases in the coming months.
“Once the measures relax, we will be looking at the new season of the flu.”