Health experts are warning of a possible “tripledemic” this winter, as COVID, flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, are now all circulating. Flu cases are also showing up earlier than usual and in higher numbers than are typical for the time of year. RSV is hitting children especially hard and has started to put stress on hospital systems in states including South Carolina and Illinois, the New York Times reported. The virus resembles the common cold but can cause more severe symptoms in small children and babies, whose narrower airways can become inflamed and blocked by mucus.
“We’re seeing a peak in cases right now,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS’s Face the Nation earlier this week. “Some people ascribe it to the fact that children have been somewhat removed from these circulating pathogens, so you don’t have as much immunity in the population generally. So it’s changed the typical cycle for this virus.”
Experts stress that the best defense against both COVID-19 and flu is getting vaccinated, which may not prevent infection but will reduce the chances of severe disease and death. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden got his updated COVID booster shot and urged Americans to roll up their sleeves ahead of the holiday season. There are currently no vaccines against RSV, which causes about 14,000 deaths among adults aged 65 and older as well as up to 300 deaths in children under the age of 5 each year, according to the Times. See also: A common virus is putting more children in the hospital than in recent years U.S. known cases of COVID are continuing to ease and now stand at their lowest level since mid-April, although the true tally is likely higher given how many people overall are testing at home, where data are not being collected. The daily average for new cases stood at 37,792 on Tuesday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 4% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations was down 1% to 26,681, while the daily average for deaths was down 7% to 357. However, the pace of improvement in both cases and hospitalizations has slowed in recent weeks, and there are concerns that winter will bring a new wave of cases. There was good news for people who are afraid of needles on Wednesday, as Shanghai started to administer an inhalable COVID-19 vaccine in what appears to be a world first, the Associated Press reported. The vaccine, in the form of a mist tha …