More seasonal sickness likely in years to come, say experts

Sick woman sitting on couch, blowing nose, with tissues and medicine.

December 5, 2023 – With COVID now added to the annual mix of viruses that typically circulate every year, including influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other respiratory viruses, “sick season” is likely to be worse—and longer—going forward.

That’s according to experts quoted in a November 30 article in the Atlantic. Among them was Bill Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Although COVID is likely to pose less of a threat over time, it is not expected to ever disappear. For the foreseeable future, “pretty much all years going forward are going to be worse than what we’ve been used to before,” Hanage said.

To stave off illness, Hanage recommended a few now-familiar precautions, such as better access to vaccines, improved surveillance systems to track local transmission trends, and improved access to home test kits and paid sick leave. If those precautions aren’t taken, there will continue to be excess disease and death, and “we’re saying we’re going to absorb that into our daily lives,” he said.

Read the Atlantic article: We’re Living the Reality of the Pandemic’s Simplest Math

Learn more

Op-ed: Wastewater testing can help fight flu and RSV (Harvard Chan School news)

Photo: iStock/Tero Vesalainen