Despite public health experts' fears about coinciding surges of flu and COVID-19 engulfing the country, a so-called "twindemic" never materialized. Now, scientists are considering a theory that could explain why, The New York Times reported April 8.
Masks, social distancing and other public health measures rolled out to contain the coronavirus's spread may have played a role in fending off flu and other respiratory viruses during the pandemic. But scientists are also pondering whether a biological phenomenon known as viral interference was at play.
The theory is that exposure to one respiratory virus may put the body at high alert and amplify its ability to fight off other viruses. As a result, only one virus could gain dominance in a region at a time.
"My gut feeling, and my feeling based on our recent research, is that viral interference is real," Ellen Foxman, MD, PhD, an immunologist at New Haven, Conn.-based Yale School of Medicine, told the Times. "I don't think we're going to see the flu and the coronavirus peak at the same time."
That said, hospitals can still become overburdened even if a twindemic doesn't occur, Dr. Foxman said.
View the full report here.