What are the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 on other respiratory illnesses?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, public health institutions around the world have implemented various nonpharmaceutical measures such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, and the use of face masks in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. This has had the effect of reducing the transmission of other infectious agents. However, mid-2021 saw some experts raise the issue of the potential side effects of these measures, such as an increased risk of more serious RSV and influenza A epidemics.

In addition, doctors are observing an immunity gap as a result of decreased exposure to endemic viruses, and a decrease in vaccination coverage. Erandeni Martínez Jiménez, biomedicine graduate and member of the Medical Virology Laboratory of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), and Andreu Comas, MD, MHS, PhD, of the Center for Research in Health Sciences and Biomedicine (CICSaB) of the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí (UASLP) School of Medicine in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, have both noted increased cases of other diseases such as measles, rubella, mumps, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and meningeal tuberculosis.

John Paget, PhD, from the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (Nivel) in Utrecht, has also highlighted the sudden decrease in the cocirculation of two distinct lineages of influenza B viruses since March 2020. He believes that determining the extinction of the B/Yamagata lineage is critical due to the possibility of a reintroduction of the lineage in the future.

Martínez Jiménez and Comas García both agree that the only way to overcome the immunity gap phenomenon is through vaccination campaigns. Comas García has called for continuing precautionary measures before the arrival of the sixth wave of COVID-19 and has recommended that those over 18 years of age who have not had any vaccine doses be offered the Abdala vaccine, although there are no studies on this vaccine as a booster.


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