July 2nd, 2020

// St. Jude-WHO Virology Expert Comments on Flu Season in the Southern Hemisphere, Potential of New Pandemic, & Testing for both COVID & the Flu

St. Jude-WHO Virology Expert Comments on Flu Season in the Southern Hemisphere, Potential of New Pandemic, & Testing for both COVID & the Flu

MEMPHIS, TENN. – As states see a spike in COVID positive cases, Dr. Richard Webby, a member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Composition Team, today commented on the current flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, a possible new pandemic with the swine flu, and testing for both COVID and the flu this fall. 

On the current flu season in the Southern Hemisphere:

“So far, Australia and New Zealand are seeing very low rates of flu. And that’s due to the fact that what they’ve been doing to reduce the spread of COVID-19, with social distancing, wearing masks and disinfecting surfaces, works equally, if not better to prevent flu,” saidDr. Richard Webby, a member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Composition Team. 

On the new swine flu: 

“We’ve known about the threat of swine viruses in this group, so it’s not a new threat. But it does remind us of the potential threat of flu,” said Dr. Richard Webbya member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Composition Team. “There are also other viruses that have similar properties that might make the jump into humans, but we can’t predict when that might happen. It could be tomorrow, it could be five years, 10 years or never.”

On testing for COVID and the flu:

“It is going to be critical to develop methods for simultaneously detecting influenza and COVID-19 infections,” said Dr. Richard Webbya member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Composition Team. “The problem, of course, is the symptoms of COVID vs. influenza are very similar. And if these viruses continue to circulate, it’ll be a problem for providers determining who has flu and who has COVID. But the more critical point will be in what happens if you’re infected with both.” 

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