CDC warns of tripledemic winter in which Covid, RSV and flu cases collide
Federal health authorities are urging Americans to stay up to date on all vaccines to avoid slowing down the healthcare system during cold and flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new statement on the potential for a tripledemic, in which cases of Covid-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) all circulate at the same time and are massively disruptive to urgent care centres and hospitals.
If all three viruses peak at the same time, they have the capacity to overwhelm healthcare centres causing delays to routine appointments, such as cancer screenings.
Before Covid-19 emerged, RSV and flu caused millions of illnesses during the fall and winter months. Flu causes an estimated 9 million to 41 million illnesses each year, while RSV causes more than 2 million illnesses in children under five alone. Among people 65 and older, RSV causes up to 10,000 deaths annually.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes illness with Covid, added an extra burden to an already fragile system, experts say. As with last year, the total number of hospitalisations this year is expected to be higher than what we as a nation experienced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new statement said. According to the most recent data from the CDC, from 3 September to 9 September, hospitalisations from Covid rose 7.7 per cent compared to the previous week. Deaths from the virus rose 4.5 per cent during the same time period.