What's in store for this flu season? What we know.
Over the past 2 years, we have experienced historically low flu activity. Much of this can be contributed to COVID precautions, but it certainly has been a nice reprieve. But as life returns to normal, what's in store for this flu season? No one can predict the future, but there are some indicators we can use to get a good idea of what to expect this year.
As you know, the southern hemisphere has opposite seasons. So their summer is our winter and vice versa. For example, Australia is currently coming out of their winter and entering spring. As a result, their flu season comes first, and historically, is a predictor of what to expect in our flu season. In fact, data from Australia's flu season is even utilized to help develop seasonal flu shots.
When we look at the historical flu trend data in Australia, as provided here, it lines up quite well with the CDC data which can be found here. So, it can be a relatively good predictor of what to expect.
So, lets get to it - what does the data tell us? Well, it’s two fold. First, there is a real chance this is their worst flu season over the past 5 years. The data suggests that 2019 may have more total flu cases, but it was spread out over a longer period of time. The current flu season peaked in June and had nearly 3x the cases as the same period in 2019.
Regardless of how you look at it, they have returned to pre-pandemic flu levels (and compared to many years, exceeded it). It’s impossible to know for sure if the US will experience the same flu spike, but the early returns suggest it is possible. The US flu season usually starts in October/November with minor activity, with exponential growth each month, peaking in February/March. We already are seeing moderate flu activity in the Southwest region, which is ahead of schedule.
We will monitor flu activity closely and provide updates as the season comes upon us, but the prudent thing to do is be prepared for a tough flu season, if Australia is any indicator.