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A potentially fatal strain of flu currently in circulation worldwide could be more of a threat to public health than COVID this winter, a senior government health adviser has warned.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warned that COVID will still present a major challenge for the NHS, but said low levels of residual immunity to flu in the general population were concerning in what could be one of the more difficult winters for the health service.
Flu and other respiratory illnesses are expected to rebound this winter after being largely suppressed through lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic.
Health agencies in Britain monitor flu infection patterns in Australia to try to predict what will happen in Europe when the seasons change.
Flu came early to Australia this year, driven largely by infections in children. The strain driving the surge in the southern hemisphere is H3N2, the same one that caused about 20,000 deaths and 40,000 hospital admissions during the 2017/2018 flu season in Britain.
As a result, the government is urging all 30 million people eligible for flu and COVID vaccines to get jabbed.
There was a record uptake of the flu jab in people aged 65 and over in 2021/22, with 82% of this age group getting vaccinated.
Créditos: Comité científico Covid