- The number of flu cases in England this winter has plunged to levels not seen in more than 130 years.
- New data published by the Sunday Times shows the prevalence of flu is around 95% lower than normal.
- Experts believe cases are low due to ongoing lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures.
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Medical experts said flu appears to have been “almost completely wiped out” after rates plummeted by a whopping 95%.
According to data obtained by the Times, the number of those who reported influenza-like illnesses to their GPs was 1.1 per 100,000 people, compared to a five-year average rate of 27.
The data comes from the second week of January, which is normally the peak time of the influenza season in which thousands of people are hospitalized.
The number of hospital admissions in England for flu was zero as of mid-January.
“I cannot think of a year this has happened,” Simon de Lusignan, a professor of primary care at the University of Oxford told the Times.
John McCauley, director of the World Health Organization’s collaborating center in London told the Times that the collapse in numbers was “unprecedented.”
But while this might be good news overall, some scientists who are developing a vaccine for next year’s flu season are struggling because of the few samples they now have to work on.
“It’s a nightmare to work out what comes next,” said McCauley. “If you have flu away for a year, then immunity will have waned. It could come back worse.”
Experts have previously said that flu rates have been lower this year due to ongoing lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures.
The low flu numbers in the country offer a stark difference to its coronavirus cases.
Almost 4 million people have contracted the virus in the UK since the beginning of the pandemic and more than 105,000 have died, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.
The country, which has been in a third lockdown since early January, has been aggressively rolling out vaccinations. More than 8 million people have already received their first dose, according to a government website.