CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Cold and flu cases plummeted amid that pandemic, and experts say masks and virus competition are to thank.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average adult gets between two and three common colds per year. However, 2020 saw historically low cases of colds and flus nationwide.
So far in the 2021 flu season, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has reported 153 cases. That’s compared to the 2019 season, during which DHEC reported over 6,700.
Masks, which keep germs from spreading, and more focus on hygiene are big factors in the reduction.
Another factor, according to Dr. Kenneth Perry with Trident Healthcare is something called virus competition:
“COVID-19 was just too big of a player. It just pushed all of the other viruses out of the way. Meaning it sort of competed and won to be in the space.”
But as masking and COVID-19 cases go down, cold and flu cases are on the rise again. Dr. Perry says that more and more patients are coming in with coughing, sneezing, and nasal congestion.
There could be a silver lining to the increase in colds and flus, according to Dr. Perry:
“It actually in its own right is sort of virology’s way of telling us that COVID-19 is starting to make its exit. That our immune systems are able to no longer look at it as a novel virus.”