2022-11-14| COVID-19Policy

CDC Warns Of “Tripledemic” Winter Amid Rising Flu And RSV Cases

by Joy Lin
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In the US, a new storm is brewing. As winter comes, federal health officials have warned of an uptick in flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections that threatens a healthcare system already burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The rising cases have prompted The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue an advisory about respiratory viruses to thousands of healthcare providers to increase testing, treatment, and vaccination. 

Related Article: Sanofi, GSK Secure European COVID-19 Booster Approval, AstraZeneca Withdraws U.S. Application

Increase In Flu And RSV Cases

6,465 patients were admitted to hospitals with influenza this week (updated November 10), up from around 4,300 patients a week ago.

RSV, an extremely common respiratory virus that causes cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose and cough, is also on the rise. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to RSV, and are more likely to develop severe diseases such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Up to 80,000 children younger than the age of five are hospitalized each year in the US due to the virus. 

While there is no approved RSV vaccine, Pfizer has indicated that their RSV vaccine, administered during pregnancy, is almost 82% effective in protecting infants for the first 90 days of life against severe illness due to RSV. The drug giant is planning to file for approval for its vaccine candidate by the end of 2022. 

The increased number of cases is partly attributed to the return of pre-pandemic life and the relaxation of social distancing and masking policies. While such policies have played a critical role in reducing the spread and severity of the pandemic, it has also prevented people from being exposed to other viruses.

“All of that regular exposure that usually happens that bolsters immunity year after year didn’t happen,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday during an appearance before the US Chamber of Commerce. 

“If you go two years without getting that infection, without getting that protection from infection and then all of a sudden, boom, everybody from zero to three years gets RSV, you see the impact on health care.”

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