The influenza epidemic in Russia in the fall was weaker than usual due to high vaccination rates and restrictive measures. Such reasons for the "disappearance" of the infection were called "Arguments and Facts" by virologist-epidemiologist, expert of the Center for Molecular Diagnostics of the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor Mikhail Lebedev.
He recalled that experts predicted the arrival in Russia not of new strains of influenza, but of genetic varieties of those mutations that circulated in previous seasons. “They also increase the incidence of disease, but not as critically as fundamentally new viruses against which the immune system has not yet developed a defense,” explained Lebedev.
According to the virologist, most often the influenza virus begins to actively spread in November, and the peak of the epidemic falls on January. However, this season the situation with the pathogen both in Russia and in Europe turned out to be “extremely favorable”. “This is largely due to the quarantine measures that are in place around the world to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. They also prevent the spread of influenza,”the expert added.
In addition, he noted that at the end of 2020, 60 percent of the Russian population was vaccinated against influenza, which helped to stop the onset of infection.
Lebedev stressed that the spread of the coronavirus did not affect the flu. “It is known that COVID-19 was first recorded in China just when the flu season was in full swing there. Moreover, according to Chinese doctors, many then had the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which is why the course of the disease was extremely difficult,”he concluded.
Earlier, the director of the Vector Center of Rospotrebnadzor Rinat Maksyutov said that the simultaneous illness of coronavirus and influenza can lead to an increase in the severity of the infection and even death.
Earlier, the head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova suggested that 60 percent of the Russian population could be vaccinated against coronavirus in a year. According to her, mass vaccination should be organized in such a way that by the beginning of the new epidemic season in the fall of 2021, Russians have already formed immunity to coronavirus.