Flu cases have fallen by more than two-thirds in two weeks and RSV continues the downward trend – but Covid deaths are starting to rise.
Today’s report showed that 8,200 cases of influenza were detected in the first week of the new year, down from 28,000 cases recorded two weeks ago. Hospitalizations for a flu-like illness have also fallen below levels recorded at this time last year.
RSV followed its downward trend for the eighth consecutive week, dropping to 2,100 cases recorded in the same week — or the lowest number since early September.
But Covid deaths rose 44 percent in a week, with 3,900 recorded in the week ending January 11. However, that was barely a third of the 13,000 recorded in the same week last year, and experts said the slight increase may be an ‘artifact’ from the furlough period that likely delayed the reporting of many deaths.
The graph above shows influenza cases reported by US clinical laboratories in the week ending January 7, or the first of the year. It showed that the flu continued to decline nationwide
The maps above show flu levels in each state for the week ending December 31 (left), and the week through January 7 (right).
In its weekly update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said: ‘Seasonal influenza activity continues but is declining in most areas.
The rate of patient visits [to hospitals] For respiratory diseases fell for all regions during [the first week of the year]”.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that everyone six months of age and older receive an annual influenza vaccine for as long as influenza activity continues,” they added.
Concerns about a so-called “triple pandemic” first arose over the summer when Australia and New Zealand – whose winter is during America’s summer – suffered devastating flu seasons.
Experts have pointed to the shutdowns, concealed mandates and other pandemic orders over the past two years as the likely reason why this year’s flu season has been more brutal than the last.
This is America’s worst flu season since the 2009 swine flu pandemic – and experts have been warning for months that the winter will be long and harsh.
The graph above shows hospital admissions with an influenza-like illness in the United States. Four percent was reported in the latest week, compared to 5.4 percent in the previous week. This was below the level for this time of year for last year’s flu season
This graph shows the number of confirmed hospitalizations per week in the United States, which is also declining
Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that Omicron’s XBB.1.5 variant is now the most popular variant in the United States.
It is dominant in the northeastern states, and is growing rapidly in other areas
Earlier in December, hospitals in some areas were fuller than at any time during the pandemic.
But the latest CDC update shows cases are declining, and continuing to do so as both influenza and RSV burn through.
The 10,000 cases of influenza were detected in the week ending January 7, the lowest number since late October.
It also accounts for about a fifth of the 47,000 individual infections confirmed in a single week in late November, at the height of the current wave.
In terms of hospitalizations, about 4% of patients visiting the units suffer from respiratory illnesses including fever, cough and sore throat. This was down by a quarter from 5.4 percent in the previous week, and about half the peak of 7.5 percent in late November.
Regionally, only one state — New Mexico — and New York City had very high flu activity during the week ending January 7.
For comparison, last week 11 states and New York City – California, New Mexico, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Nebraska all had very high levels.
The CDC has estimated that so far this year there have been 24 million flu illnesses, 260,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths from the virus.
RSV infections also trended down for the eighth straight week, with 2,100 confirmed cases in the latest week from 4,800 in the previous week.
Covid infections are also declining, with 414,721 cases recorded in the week ending January 11, the latest available. This was down from 477,230 in the previous week.
But today, the CDC said, the most infectious variant of Covid XBB.1.5 is now the most common strain in the United States, behind two out of five infections.
It is the dominant strain in the northeastern states–such as New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey–and is grown throughout the country.
Shown above are RSV detections in the United States. Cases fell for the eighth week in a row
This graph shows US COVID deaths by week, which are up. Experts say this may be due to the reports, however
The chart above shows the cases of Covid in the United States, as reported by the CDC
Covid cases have fallen in the last week, but that may be due to a lack of testing with the week ending January 4 seeing the lowest number of tests done nationwide – 1.9 million – since the early days of the pandemic.
The number of Covid deaths has risen in the latest week, with 3,900 cases recorded in the week ending January 11 compared to 2,700 in the previous seven-day period.
The number of recorded Covid deaths is the highest since August, but still far from the 17,300 cases recorded in February during the last Covid wave.
However, experts say that because this is reported by date, the slight uptick may be due to a delay in reporting deaths over the holiday period – when fewer people were available to process the data.
Dr Paul Hunter, a virology expert at the University of East Anglia in the UK, told DailyMail.com: ‘This may be due to a backlog of late deaths reported during the holiday period that was finally reported.
When I see a sudden and unexpected change in any monitoring data, my first question is always could this be an artifact?
You’d be surprised how often things like this are artifacts, and they’re even more popular around the holidays.
“You can get effects from delayed reporting and holidays,” added Dr. William Hanage, a Harvard epidemiologist.
There’s a lot of interest in XBB.1.5 right now but all we can definitively say for now is that it’s not much different.
But that can change as the data arrives and the infections it caused begin to resolve one way or the other.
There is no evidence at this point that XBB.1.5 is more likely to cause severe illness or death than other variants currently in circulation.