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Coronavirus Cases Surge In US, Abroad Just As Flu Season Begins

A flu vaccine vial is shown in this undated photo.

Credit: San Diego County

Above: A flu vaccine vial is shown in this undated photo.

More than 85,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the U.S. last Friday, breaking previous single day records. Since October, the rise in cases has been steady in the U.S., France, Italy, India and others.

Virologist Sumit Chanda of Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute says historically past pandemics have come in waves.

Listen to this story by Shalina Chatlani.

“I think this is the fall surge that most people anticipated happening. We can track previous pandemics and we do see waves of pandemics,” Chanda said. “So the 1918 flu was actually three different waves, so we’re entering into this fall season where we typically see an increase in respiratory viruses like coronaviruses.”

He says as we enter a colder fall season, where people move indoors and there are more respiratory diseases like the flu, there appears to be a second wave of increased virus transmission.

“It’s unclear what the interplay between the flu and COVID-19 is. It will be unlikely that you’ll get them at the same time,” Chanda said.

RELATED: US Coronavirus Cases Surpass Summer Peak And Are Climbing Higher Fast

“But each one is a respiratory disease, a respiratory virus causing disease in the lungs. And if you get the flu and you have damage to your lungs, it's more likely that if you then get coronavirus, you're going to have a worse outcome.”

Chanda recommends people get flu vaccines, so there is less burden on hospital capacity. And the vaccine could help a person prevent putting their immune systems at risk

“We are potentially going to have a double whammy on our health care system. And you're going to take up an ICU bed if you have a bad case of the flu. So from a population level, it's incredibly important that you get a vaccine to lessen the health care burden for it to free up people for those who have coronavirus,” Chanda said.

Chanda says it’s important that people continue to socially distance, especially during the holidays when there are lots of gatherings.

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Photo of Shalina Chatlani

Shalina Chatlani
Science and Technology Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover all things science and technology — from the biotech industry in San Diego to rooftop solar energy on new homes. I'm interested in covering the human side of science and technology, like barriers to entry for people of color or gender equity issues on biotech boards.

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