During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, other respiratory viruses such as the flu, RSV, and many others that cause colds appeared to have decreased due to the same protective measures taken against COVID-19. However, as societies tired of the pandemic constraints and relaxed restrictions, these usual viruses returned, often with odd timings and behaviors. With the fourth winter in the pandemic era approaching, experts suggest respiratory viruses are now shifting back into their typical seasonal patterns. For instance, the flu activity seems to follow the regular seasonal pattern that it did before the pandemic. Certain places, like China and Hong Kong, which implemented stricter COVID-19 regulations, are not showing as much return to pre-pandemic virus seasonality as North America and Europe. There is agreement among scientists that the control measures used against COVID-19 also likely hindered the circulation of other viruses, leading to a decrease in our immunity to them at a population level. With restrictions lifting, exposure to these viruses is increasing, and we may expect a return to pre-pandemic disease patterns.
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[Source: STAT, November 20th, 2023]