Flu could have virtually utterly disappeared in England after brutal lockdown curbs thwarted the unfold of the virus.
Public Well being England has not recorded a single case of the virus up to now this yr via routine surveillance exams, regardless of it being the peak of the same old flu season.
However this doesn’t suggest it has been utterly worn out, well being bosses say.
But officers are assured flu is barely spreading as a result of solely 4 folks admitted to hospitals in England because the begin of yr had been confirmed to have had the virus.
For comparability, 74 sufferers had been admitted with flu throughout the identical week firstly of 2020 — earlier than Covid had taken maintain.
Nevertheless, the figures suggesting flu has been annihilated are from a snapshot of simply 25 NHS trusts. Knowledge for the opposite 100-plus hospitals should not included within the weekly surveillance studies.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, of PHE, mentioned social distancing, face coverings and hand washing had sparked the sharp drop in influenza infections.
‘The lower in flu circumstances this yr is probably going attributable to adjustments in our behaviour, resembling social distancing, face coverings and handwashing, in addition to the discount in worldwide journey,’ she advised the Independent.
Public Well being England was but to file a single case of influenza this yr by February 14. However specialists cautioned this doesn’t suggest the virus has utterly disappeared, as a result of the company solely sequences samples that it receives from NHS hospitals and as a part of surveillance programmes
The dearth of circumstances recorded via the official swabbing scheme by February 14 doesn’t essentially imply influenza will not be in circulation.
PHE often solely checks samples despatched to it by the NHS, which was overwhelmed with Covid sufferers.
The Workplace for Nationwide Statistics has additionally continued to file deaths linked to the virus this yr.
PHE detects flu circumstances in hospitals by screening swab exams from NHS sufferers so docs can higher deal with them in the event that they know they’ve flu.
BRITONS COULD GET COVID VACCINE IN A PILL, SAYS EXPERT
Britons might get their Covid vaccine within the type of a capsule sooner or later, in line with the lead scientist behind Oxford College’s jab.
Professor Sarah Gilbert advised MPs at the moment her crew had been focusing their efforts on new, injection-free methods to ship the vaccine and stimulate a greater immune response.
The group are exploring delivering the jab utilizing nasal sprays, in the identical method the flu jab is given to youngsters, or in pill type, utilized in polio vaccination.
Not solely wouldn’t it be nice information for individuals who have a worry of needles, it might assist alleviate provide points which have hindered rollouts internationally.
Professor Gilbert mentioned utilizing drugs or nasal sprays could higher goal immune cells within the lungs, throat and nostril, making them much more efficient.
But it surely often solely carries this out for critically ailing sufferers, and surveillance programmes analyzing the unfold of the virus.
PHE admitted in its personal report that every one indicators present influenza is spreading at low ranges however warned there’s now ‘restricted testing’ for viruses that are not Covid.
Dr Saliba added that circumstances had been additionally low due to the flu vaccine – which greater than 15million folks in England received final yr.
‘[This] helps defend them from the flu and likewise stops them spreading it to others,’ she mentioned.
‘This season’s immunisation programme is on observe to be probably the most profitable ever, with the very best ranges of vaccine uptake recorded for these 65 years and over, two and three-year-olds and healthcare employees.’
81 per cent of over-65s have had the vaccine this yr, together with round half of high-risk youthful folks and pregnant ladies, and a 3rd of middle-aged individuals who had been in an expanded group for 2020.
Consultants have mentioned the sharp decline in flu infections means that the virus could possibly be stored in verify yearly with a few of the measures used to cease Covid, which can stay in use after the pandemic.
NHS hospitals often see a mass inflow of flu sufferers each winter, however this yr they did not materialise.
Lockdowns have been imposed to convey down Covid-19 circumstances locally and relieve intense stress on healthcare providers.
Research and official knowledge present coronavirus is considerably deadlier than flu for older folks, however could also be comparable for the younger.
No10 is presently finishing up a mass vaccination programme in opposition to Covid to permit life to return to regular, with the goal of freedom by June 21.
Boris Johnson has outlined his ‘four-stage’ ticket to freedom from restrictions, saying this has solely been made doable by immunity from jabs.
The plan will see faculties be the primary to open on March 8, adopted by mates and households being allowed to satisfy with one different in parks on March 24.
Officers will wait 5 weeks between stress-free every stage to make sure it doesn’t set off any spikes in Covid infections.