Experts predict a risk of triplendemia for the next few months, due to the widespread circulation of respiratory infections caused by three viruses.
With the arrival of the cold season i respiratory pathogens (and not only) have an advantage for many reasons, precisely for this reason between autumn and winter there are peaks of flu diseases e parainfluenzacharacterized by cough, fever, sore throatjoint pain and others symptoms typical. Between the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, however, a practically unprecedented situation will arise, which in the United States they have decided to call with the somewhat reassuring name of “triplendemic”, triplendemia in our language. As the term suggests, it is the coexistence of three distinct diseases, the simultaneous spread of which in the coming months could put a strain on the health systems of many countries, including Italy. The diseases involved are all respiratory: influenza, normally caused by influenza viruses Type A e B; the COVID-19 triggered by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2; and infections attributable to human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The responsible viruses have been circulating at the same time since the Covid pandemic broke out, so why are there fears of an unprecedented scenario for the upcoming cold season, so much so as to coin the name of triplendemic?
The reasons are different, but all intimately related to pandemic of COVID-19 and the measures taken in recent years to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2. THE lockdownil social distancingthe use of maskslo smart workingthe distance learning and the best attention tohand hygiene, just to cite the best known measures, not only have they reduced contagions of the pandemic pathogen, but they have also – literally – brought down seasonal flu epidemics, as well as keeping RSV at bay. The latter is a virus which, based on data from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), only in Italia causes over 20 thousand hospitalizations and about 3000 deaths. To realize the impact of the draconian anti Covid measures on influenza, it is enough to mention the data from Australia: in 2019, before the outbreak of the pandemic, the Australian health system recorded over 60 thousand cases, in 2020 only 107. In practice, the flu was canceled.
As we all know, the anti Covid measures have been eliminated practically all: people today can travel and meet without limits, while social distancing has become a distant memory. They are “achievements” also achieved thanks to the significant vaccination campaign. But this winter, unpleasant surprises could still emerge on the curves of hospitalizations and deaths for Covid, due to the combination of various factors: absent preventive measures; circulation of super elusive strains such as Omicron’s sub-variants; And immunity downhill for many people. Not all, in fact, have made the vaccine boosters recommended for their age group / health condition.
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But we are talking about triplendemic, not the umpteenth, subtle wave of Covid. In very simple words, the other two viruses risk being more problematic than usual since they can profit from the absence of the measures that have long silenced them (almost). One of the main risks is that ours immune systems – and especially those of younger children – in these three years they have not been trained to the usual seasonal exposure to pathogens, therefore both RSV and flu strains could exploit favorable opportunities to spread more easily and cause more severe infections. As indicated by the New York Times, the human respiratory syncytial virus is already causing many accesses in children’s hospitals, with children suffering from acute infections, bronchioliti e pneumonia. The flu can also cause very serious infections and trigger epidemics that can disrupt health systems. In Italy alone, under normal conditions, according to ISS data, influenza and its complications cause an average of 8,000 deaths a year.
In the current scenario, therefore, the triplendemic is anything but to be underestimated, for this reason doctors and scientists are recommending vaccinating both against Covid (with all the doses provided for your range) and against the flu. Unfortunately, there is still no vaccine against RSV, even if the pharmaceutical companies are working on it and are well underway. As explained to Repubblica by Dr. Giovanni Maga, director of the National Research Center of Pavia, even if the triplendemic alarm comes from the United States, it applies to all countries. “The probability of potentially contracting the three diseases, namely Covid, influenza and RSV, is not the most insignificant, and this must be the subject of much attention,” explains Maga. “We take into account – he continues – that children are not vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, and they are not vaccinated against the flu, although the vaccine in the latter case is available (it can be done from 6 months) and recommended especially in smaller because in schools and kindergartens it is easy to get infected. But the response to vaccination is not often high because parents underestimate its importance ”. Vaccination, prevention and attention in behaviors will therefore be fundamental also in the coming months, for everyone.