Number of flu cases below pre-pandemic levels

March 21, 2022

The number of flu cases in the United States is increasing, but has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection.

One of the positive side effects of the COVID pandemic has been a drop in flu cases, apparently because people are isolating and social distancing. In the 2019-2020 season, more than 22,000 people in the US died from the flu. The number of deaths dropped to about 700 for the 2020-2021 season.

For the 2021-2022 flu season, the CDC estimates that there have been 1,700 flu deaths, 2.9 million flu cases and 28,000 hospitalizations due to the flu so far.

“The cumulative hospitalization rate…is higher than the rate for the entire 2020-2021 season, but lower than the rate currently seen during the four seasons leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CDC said in its weekly flu surveillance report. .

But the CDC noted that the number of hospitalizations has risen in the past six weeks. Last week, three pediatric flu deaths were reported. For the 2021-2022 flu season, there have been 13 pediatric deaths so far.

The rate of outpatient doctor visits for respiratory illness rose last week but is still below epidemic baselines, the CDC said, noting that flu isn’t the only respiratory illness circulating.

While flu cases vary by location, Oklahoma has reported high flu activity as measured by doctor visits, and Arkansas and Idaho reported moderate activity, the CDC said.

A preliminary study published in December said flu vaccines for the 2021-2022 flu season don’t offer as much protection as hoped against the most circulating strain of flu. However, the study said it appears the vaccines will still prevent serious illness in people who are infected.

The vaccines are designed far in advance to fight the flu strains expected to dominate the United States during the 2021-2022 flu season: H3N2, H1N1, and two strains of influenza B.

The flu season typically lasts from October to May in the Northern Hemisphere and April to September in the Southern Hemisphere.

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