According to a simulation, people could be more susceptible to other infectious diseases after removing the corona rules.
Current hygiene and distance rules not only reduce the spread of Covid-19, but also the spread of other infectious diseases such as influenza and colds. According to a simulation study, US researchers are now warning that temporary contact with other pathogens could lead to people becoming more susceptible to such infections after the corona measures have been lifted. Independent German experts stress that the work involves a lot of speculation and should not be misinterpreted.
Deterioration in other infectious diseases through hygiene rules
Corona measures common in many countries, such as keeping your distance and wearing masks, have been proven to protect against Covid-19, writes the team led by epidemiologist Rachel Baker of Princeton University (US state) New Jersey) in the proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences. («PNAS»). This also applies to other infectious diseases. “The incidence of several respiratory pathogens has recently declined in many locations around the world. “”
Only in late October – after a late winter in the southern hemisphere – did researchers in the journal “The Lancet” ever report flu * in Australia and New Zealand. As an explanation for the phenomenon, they also referred to the corona measures as Keep your distance, mouth and nose protection and school closures.
Corona: Model simulation on trend
Baker’s team assumes that such measures and the reduced contact with pathogens can later increase the susceptibility of the population to various infections. Using various models, the researchers simulated how removing the corona measures could affect two seasonal pathogens: Influenza type A (IAV) and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) viruses, which cause respiratory diseases, particularly in young children. The number of RSV transmissions in the USA has been estimated to have fallen by about 20 percent since the introduction of the corona measures.
On this basis, the authors reckon that even short-term measures could lead to an increase in RSV infections with delays. In the simulation for the USA and Mexico, the majority of RSV cases would occur during the winter of 2021/22. The team came to similar conclusions regarding seasonal influenza A outbreaks. However, the authors themselves admit that predictions about influenza waves cause problems mainly because of the diversity of these viruses and the different efficacy of existing vaccines.
Flu wave unpredictable
This is actually a weak point in the study, says virologist Gülsah Gabriel of the Heinrich Pette Institute in Hamburg, who was not involved in the study. “Influenza A viruses are interchangeable and adaptable. This virus evolution is a dynamic process that cannot be modeled. “The entomologist Bernd Salzberger of the University Hospital of Regensburg also objects that such dynamics can hardly be captured in mathematical models:”There could be an excessive wave of flu, but the opposite could happen as well“, Said the President of the German Infectious Disease Society (DGI). The study’s statements are speculative.
Results only after several years of abstinence from pathogens
“If we kept all viruses away from us for three years, it would certainly be problematic for our immune system,” Salzberger emphasized. However, most people would not wear a mask all the time, but only for a short time. So years of pathogen abstinence are unrealistic, because various vaccines against Sars-CoV-2 are already well developed.
Virologist Gabriel cautions against misinterpretation of the study results as an argument against the corona measures – for example against wearing mouth and nose protection. This is especially important at the moment, also to reduce the risk of co-infection. If you were infected with influenza viruses and another pathogen, the combination would be much more serious. In addition, high-risk groups should be vaccinated specifically against influenza. Therefore, it is important to have enough flu vaccinations ready in the coming winters. (dpa) *Merkur.de is part of the nationwide network of Ippen-Digital editors.
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