Virus ‘triple threat’ winter warning: Covid, RSV and influenza on the rise

Australians are being warned of a ‘triple threat’ of the virus this winter, prompting health experts to re-emphasize the importance of vaccination.

Covid-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have been rampant across the northern hemisphere during the winter months, causing concern among the country’s medical community.

Following a relatively low flu rate at the height of the Covid pandemic, Australia saw a quarter of a million cases in 2022, with 300 deaths, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australian National University infectious disease expert Dr Nick Coatsworth said while healthcare providers are ready for flu season, accessibility and convenience are a major concern.

“There is a triple threat this year combining influenza, Covid-19 and RSV, and the urgent need for early protection is real,” Dr. Coatsworth said, “as general practitioners and hospitals across the country are pushing their capacity to record levels. demand will only get worse if we all get sick.

“Many will still rely on their GPs for vaccinations, but this could become a problem with already overburdened GP clinics and long waiting times.”

Dr Coatsworth is urging Australians to use the pharmacy for winter vaccinations, especially for flu and Covid injections.

TerryWhite Chemmart chief pharmacist Brenton Hart said that while people may experience vaccine fatigue, many unknowingly carry the flu virus.

“People can unknowingly get the flu and severely affect the most vulnerable,” Mr. Hart said. “The more we suppress the flu through vaccination, the less the virus has the ability to mutate and infect people.”

A 2018 Southern Hemisphere Study and Surveillance of Influenza and Vaccine Effectiveness found that influenza vaccination in adults reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit with influenza by 59 percent.

And a 2012 study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-related hospitalizations in pediatric intensive care units by 74 percent.

Originally published as Health experts warn of winter virus ‘triple threat’ after northern hemisphere chaos