In the news
Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., discusses this year's flu season in The Atlantic
Feb. 24, 2021
In a story published on Feb. 4 titled "The Pandemic Broke the Flu," The Atlantic explored the extremely low prevalence of flu cases throughout the world this year. Among the experts consulted for input on why the flu is so scarce was Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Dr. Binnicker noted that among the 20,000 flu tests conducted for patients with respiratory symptoms since Dec. 1, 2020, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, none were positive. “It’s absolutely remarkable,” he says. “I fully expected there to be a typical influenza season this year.”
The article reported that other health care organizations across the country also are seeing a dramatic decrease in flu cases this season. It said: "Since early fall, about 800,000 laboratory samples have been tested in the United States for the flu and reported to the CDC, and only 1,500 or so have come up positive — a mere 0.2 percent. This time last year, close to 100 times as many flu cases had been identified from nearly the same number of tests."
Although the infection prevention measures people are taking to ward off COVID-19 certainly seem to be a contributing factor, they don't fully account for the steep decline. The article explored other potential reasons behind the low number of flu cases and considered the implications it may have on future flu seasons, as well as next year's influenza vaccinations.