Could this year's flu season be used to determine the effectiveness of virus masks?

  • #1
143
66

Summary:

Could this year's flu season be used to gauge the effectiveness of virus masks?
Could this year's flu season be used to determine the effectiveness of virus masks?

Every other person if wearing one, so if flu cases are significantly less than normal, that means that virus masks are having a noticeable effect?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
183
90
Maybe. Maybe not. The issue is that flu seasons are very erratic in intensity.
 
  • #4
1,710
1,033
Could this year's flu season be used to determine the effectiveness of virus masks?
Let's say likely the data will be useful to support such a claim, but honestly: there are too many variables.
Generally, any set of preventive measures what's able to effectively slow down a pandemic with R0 between 2-3 will kill a pandemic with a R0 around a puny 1.5
(Given that the way of transmissions are similar.)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes BillTre
  • #5
Fervent Freyja
Gold Member
642
614
Yes, it should.
 
  • #6
1,982
267
Summary:: Could this year's flu season be used to gauge the effectiveness of virus masks?

Could this year's flu season be used to determine the effectiveness of virus masks?

Every other person if wearing one, so if flu cases are significantly less than normal, that means that virus masks are having a noticeable effect?
The problem is that there are no places AFAIK where masks are the only measure against Corona, and distancing will also affect the flu. There's no easy way to determine if the masks are the cause of the low number of flu cases.
 
  • Like
Likes jim mcnamara
  • #7
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,932
2,258
Back in February 2020, NY state experienced the 2nd highest level of weekly influenza cases in 20 years. Officials say there were 17,233 laboratory-confirmed flu cases reported, the second-highest weekly total since the 1998-1999 flu season. Health officials expected influenza cases in New York to set record-high levels since the New York State Department of Health began tracking flu cases during the 1998-99 season.
https://abc7ny.com/flu-cases-ny-influenza/5928515/
https://www.lohud.com/story/news/he...d-highs-amid-coronavirus-concerns/4753341002/

According to another USAToday article, https://www.lohud.com/story/news/co...-covid-surges-what-know-flu-shots/6174487002/
During the 2019/2020 season, there were 22,217 flu-associated hospitalizations in New York and 13 pediatric deaths, state data show.

Nationwide, the flu sickened 38 million Americans, sent 18 million to a care provider, hospitalized 400,000 and killed more than 22,000 people nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.
. . .
So far in 2020, testing has turned up 336 flu cases in New York, with a test positivity rate of about 2.7%, state data show.
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2019-2020.html
COVID-19 has killed more people in New State in 8 months than were killed by influenza in the entire nation in 1 year (2019-2020 flu season). Nationwide, COVID fatalities over the 8 months (March-November 2020) are more than ten times the fatalities due to influenza during the 2019-2020 flu season.

CDC noted, "Activity (of influenza) began to decline in March, perhaps associated with community prevention measures for COVID-19 (5-6)." So there is some indication that wearing masks and reducing contact among the population reduces transmission of respiratory illnesses.

CDC states: "Hospitalization rates among children 0-4 years old and adults 18-49 years old were higher than observed during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (6)."

https://health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/tracker.htm

New State and CDC are encouraging folks to get the influenza vaccination this season, including young children.

October 2, 2020 –
CDC today reported 1 new seasonal flu-related death in a child that occurred during week 4 of the 2019-2020 season, bringing the total number of flu deaths in kids reported to CDC for last season to 189. This surpasses the highest recorded number for pediatric flu deaths reported during a regular flu season, which occurred during the 2017-2018 flu season when 188 pediatric flu deaths were reported to CDC.
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/2020-2021/pediatric-flu-deaths.htm
 
  • #8
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2019 Award
25,712
8,904
It is certainly true that mask-wearing is correlated with other activities, which makes it difficult to untangle. It is also the case that all of these activities are correlated with perceived risk. That makes it even more difficult to untangle.

This brings up an interesting point - if it is worth imposing a lockdown plus mask-wearing plus social distancing etc. for Vermont (94.5 Covid deaths per million people) and a bad flu season (like 2017) is 200 deaths per million people, shouldn't logicaslly we always be in lockdown?
 
  • #9
Ygggdrasil
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2019 Award
3,132
3,047
It is certainly true that mask-wearing is correlated with other activities, which makes it difficult to untangle. It is also the case that all of these activities are correlated with perceived risk. That makes it even more difficult to untangle.

This brings up an interesting point - if it is worth imposing a lockdown plus mask-wearing plus social distancing etc. for Vermont (94.5 Covid deaths per million people) and a bad flu season (like 2017) is 200 deaths per million people, shouldn't logicaslly we always be in lockdown?
~100 deaths per million is the statistic with lockdown and social distancing measures in place. The correct comparison would be the death rate without lockdown and social distancing measures in place, which would likely be unacceptably high compared to the typical rate of influenza deaths. Furthermore, a vaccine exist for influenza while a vaccine has not yet been approved for COVID-19.
 
  • Like
Likes jim mcnamara
  • #10
1,710
1,033
...shouldn't logically we always be in lockdown?
'Always' and 'lockdown' might be a bit of an overkill here but I think two weeks of 'mask ON' after the new year party could significantly reduce the impact of the flu season.

The correct comparison... ... ... ... ...
Also the 'years lost'.
 
  • #11
jim mcnamara
Mentor
4,106
2,607
With the 'long hauler' problem, the DALY (disabled life years) will certainly become important. The duration of severe symptoms, which are a not uncommon continuing effect after cessation of virus infection, are likely the result of tissue unrepaired damage.

JAMA:
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2771111

So I would suggest consideration of the good old-time epidemiology classifications like DALY/100k and YLL/100k of the known infected population may be a good way to differentiate.

Review:
https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/laninf/PIIS1473-3099(20)30484-9.pdf
 
Last edited:
  • Like
  • Informative
Likes Astronuc and berkeman

Related Threads on Could this year's flu season be used to determine the effectiveness of virus masks?

Replies
4
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
3K
Replies
11
Views
627
Replies
6
Views
805
Replies
1
Views
189
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
2K
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
3
Views
11K
Replies
2
Views
304
Top