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June 1, 2020 – As if the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t scary enough, the flu season is not far away. How severe will the flu season be as it converges with the COVID-19 outbreak? What can we do to prepare?

Dr. Benjamin Singer, a Northwestern Medicine pulmonologist who treats COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit, outlines the best defense against influenza, which also may protect against coronavirus.

In an editorial that will be published May 29 in the journal Science Advances, Singer, an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care and biochemistry and molecular genetics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, examines the epidemiology and biology of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza to help inform preparation strategies for the upcoming flu season.

He outlines the following four factors that could determine the severity of the upcoming flu season:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the 2019-2020 seasonal influenza epidemic resulted in tens of millions of cases and tens of thousands of deaths.

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“Even in non-pandemic years, the flu and other causes of pneumonia represent the eighth-leading cause of death in the United States, and respiratory viruses are the most commonly identified pathogens among hospitalized patients with community-acquired pneumonia,” Singer said.

Journal Article: Science Advances, May 29, 2020: eabd0086 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd0086