Now that most of the world has returned to relaxed mask mandates and regular public outings, there has been an aggressive surge of influenza, the common cold, and other viruses like Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
There is speculation in the medical field that the attacks from particular common illnesses aren’t because they have mutated into more hostile versions of themselves. Medical professionals believe immunity debt is to blame, which occurs when the population can’t build a tolerance against common illnesses due to avoiding contact with others for long periods of time. Immunity debt has greatly affected young children, but the lack of antibodies needed to build a tolerance against viruses, has caused the issues we’re seeing today.
Scientists and medical experts expected to see this surge of aggressive respiratory infections while many areas were opening back up, in 2021-2022, the Omicron variant and its coinciding restrictions stopped these numbers from going up like they are now.
So what does this mean for the general public? Dr. Christopher Woods, chief medical officer at Biomeme, has shed some light on how COVID has affected our immune systems and how it will continue to be a part of our daily lives.
How Has COVID Affected Our Immune Systems?
According to Woods, “There is no evidence that COVID infections themselves have suppressed our immune systems to any or all of the other viruses, unlike other diseases such as measles.” But due to lockdowns and other restrictions, our bodies weren’t coming in contact with the antibodies that arm us against common illnesses. With new variants of COVID as well as flu season upon us, we are now more susceptible to catching a cold, getting the flu, or other respiratory illnesses, and we might feel even worse than we would have after catching these same illnesses pre-COVID.
What We Can Do to Protect Ourselves
Awareness of one’s health and how it affects others was a popular topic during the pandemic. Post-pandemic should be no different, especially when dealing with other viruses while you’ve recently been diagnosed with COVID.
However, according to Woods, returning to a strict mask mandate might not be necessary if people are diligent about getting their flu and COVID vaccines and boosters. RSV has become an issue for young children and the elderly, but otherwise, most are not at high-risk for infection if properly vaccinated. It’s also highly encouraged to make sure you are up-to-date on both influenza and COVID vaccinations.
How Does COVID Still Affect Us Today?
COVID is by no means a thing of the past. With a surge of aggressive symptoms of relatively passive illnesses, it’s become even more clear that we still need to protect ourselves and others. One of the outcomes medical professionals have seen lately is increased co-infection (i.e., having the flu and COVID at the same time). There is fundamental evidence that co-infection may impact the severity or susceptibility to infection, so it’s imperative to practice safe hygiene and social distancing when necessary.
As long as you’re taking proper precautions to stay away from those who are showing flu-like symptoms, practicing proper hygiene, and being respectful of others when you’re experiencing sickness, we will keep these outbreaks at bay, even though they’re higher than average.
Regular testing is also ideal when going out of town or when spending time around young children or the elderly. We offer concierge services for in-home COVID testing to offer ease and convenience as we combat flu season together.
Interested in scheduling concierge testing services? Let’s talk.