While the novel coronavirus dominates the headlines, many health-care officials say that the flu remains by far a more serious threat to the American public.
This influenza season has been mild compared to others. In the peak year of the flu since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 61,000 Americans died during the 2017-2018 flu season. The number of deaths has not fallen below 12,000 for a single flu season. Despite these numbers, the CDC estimates that fewer than half of American adults gets a flu vaccination despite the recommendation that everyone over the age of 6 months should get one.
For the past 2 weeks, the CDC has reported an increase in flu activity. The percentage of specimens testing positive have reached a record high for the season for the week ending January 25. Even though it’s been a mild flu season thus far, there are signs that indicate that the worst of the season still lies ahead.
Despite these overwhelming numbers, the flu generates fewer headlines and fear—perhaps because of familiarity and the fear of the unknown. And with the coronavirus, there remains a lot of unfamiliarity, confusion, and an eye-popping number of new cases around the world, as reported in CHEST Physician. While those cases are widely reported, the flu season’s resurgence occurs mostly under the radar.
FDA Approves Novel Pandemic Influenza Vaccine
While recent data indicate an uptick in the flu, clinicians and patients will soon have a new tool to fight against the flu. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first and only vaccine-adjuvanted vaccine against the flu virus A H5N1.
The vaccine was developed to rapidly deploy in a fight against a pandemic by a joint private and public partnership between Seqirus and a special division of the US Department of Health & Human Services. The new vaccine’s commercial new is Audenz, and it has FDA fast-track designation.